High Systolic Blood Pressure: Common and Dangerous

High blood pressure is an extremely common ailment – some sources suggest that at least 1 in 3 Americans are afflicted with the disease. Unfortunately, there are not many observable symptoms of high blood pressure; most people who suffer from the disease only find out because a routine check shows their blood pressure is abnormally high.

Patients may have high blood pressure for many years without being diagnosed, and if left untreated high blood pressure can lead to many serious consequences, including heart attack, kidney failure and stroke.

Blood pressure is made up of two components (represented by the two numbers e.g., 150 / 80) systolic blood pressure is the top number and measures the amount of force with which the blood will hit the artery walls. High systolic blood pressure then, indicates that blood is hitting the artery wall with a force greater than what is normal or healthy. The bottom number, generally lower, is called diastolic. This number indicates the level of force exerted between beats of the heart, essentially the level of blood pressure during rest.

Relation of the Two Numbers: High Systolic Blood Pressure and Diastolic Blood Pressure

High systolic blood pressure appears to be more associated with negative consequences in older or middle aged patients. It is especially predictive of negative heart events, myocardial infarction, etc. High systolic blood pressure can be problematic even when diastolic pressure is relatively low, a condition called isolated systolic hypertension (or high blood pressure).

In fact this type of high systolic blood pressure is the most common form of high blood pressure in those over age 50. High diastolic blood pressure is more predictive of problems in younger adults.

The difference between the two numbers is one way to diagnose the likelihood of suffering negative consequences. In general the greater the gap between systolic and diastolic, the worse patient outcomes are. Additionally, number guidelines are available. High systolic blood pressure is categorized as a systolic pressure greater than or equal to 140.

Treating high systolic blood pressure is absolutely essential for maintaining good health. Several options are available, including lifestyle and diet changes like reducing fat and sodium intake, reducing stress levels, and exercising more frequently. Additionally, most patients with high systolic blood pressure can be treated effectively with one of a variety of prescription medications. Receiving proper treatment can help alleviate or eliminate most negative consequences of high systolic blood pressure.