Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. Blood pressure rises and falls during the day. When blood pressure stays elevated over time, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension.
Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers — the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (when the heart is at rest). A consistent blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered high blood pressure, another term for hypertension.
What is systolic blood pressure?
Systolic pressure is the force of blood in the arteries as the heart beats. It is shown as the top number in a blood pressure reading. High blood pressure is 140 and higher for systolic pressure. Diastolic pressure does not need to be high for you to have high blood pressure.
Is isolated systolic hypertension common? (ISH)
Yes. It is the most common form of high blood pressure for older people. Systolic blood pressure increases with age, while diastolic increases until about age 55 and then declines. About 65 percent of hypertensive people over age 60 have ISH. As with other types of high blood pressure, ISH often causes no symptoms.
Any form of high blood pressure is dangerous if not properly treated. Both numbers in a blood pressure test are important, but, for some, the systolic is especially meaningful. That's because, for those persons middle aged and older, systolic pressure gives a better diagnosis of high blood pressure.
If left uncontrolled, high systolic pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, kidney damage, blindness, or other conditions. While it cannot be cured once it has developed, ISH can be controlled.
Clinical studies have proven that treating a high systolic pressure can saves lives, greatly reduces illness, and improves the quality of life.