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Why You Should Control Your Blood Pressure and How to Go About Doing It

High blood pressure affects 73 million Americans, nearly a third of whom are unaware they have high blood pressure. It is a major risk factor for heart disease, kidney disease and stroke, contributing to more than 275,000 deaths each year. High blood pressure can lead to dementia, functional decline and mobility impairments in older people.

You should have your blood pressure checked annually; more often if you have borderline high or high blood pressure. To keep it under control, Lewis Lipsitz, MD, director of Hebrew SeniorLife's Institute for Aging Research and Chief of the Division of Gerontology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, provides the following advice:

  • Take blood pressure medications as prescribed.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce sodium intake.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain an appropriate body weight.

Research shows that blood pressure can be highly variable in elder adults, particularly after standing up or after eating a meal. Good blood pressure control can reduce this variability. Physicians should monitor a patient's blood pressure by measuring it at different times and circumstances. If it drops after meals, blood pressure medications should be given between meals or before bed.

Above content provided by Hebrew SeniorLife in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted July 2012

Contact Information

Division of Gerontology
Department of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Lowry Medical Office Building #1B (West Campus)
110 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02215

Contact Information

Hebrew Senior Life
1200 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131