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Men's Health

Blood pressure and age

09/19/2007

Question:

Is a 140 over 79 blood pressure acceptable for a 70 year old caucasian male?

Answer:

Blood pressure goes up with age, and the lifetime risk of becoming hypertensive in the United States is 90%.  It is therefore likely, that your blood pressure will continue to rise slowly with time.

Although current guidelines define hypertension as a blood pressure of 140/90 or greater, the optimal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower.  There is a linear relationship between risk for heart disease and stroke and systolic blood pressure (the upper number), and the increase in risk starts at 115 mmHg.  You blood pressure should be no higher than 130/85.

The effect of blood pressure on cardiovascular risk is present at any age.  Even people over age 80 benefit from a lowering the blood pressure.  In your case, I would recommend treatment with lifestyle changes (if applicable) as well as with medication.  A delay as short as six months in controlling your blood pressure can already increase your risk measurably.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati