The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Majority of older people with hypertension don’t check blood pressure

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, amping up the importance of regular testing

(iStock)

Less than half — 48 percent — of older Americans who have high blood pressure (hypertension) or a health issue related to their blood pressure check their blood pressure regularly, according to research published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

That was found to be the case even though most of them (62 percent) said they had been encouraged by their physician to do home monitoring. High blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, but it usually has no symptoms, amping up the importance of testing.

The findings stem from data from a nationally representative sample of 2,023 people ages 50 to 80, part of the University of Michigan’s ongoing National Poll on Healthy Aging. Some participants had high blood pressure only, while others had such health issues as diabetes, heart disease, heart failure or kidney disease.

Over 1.2 billion people around the world suffer from hypertension

High blood pressure can lead to those conditions and others, such as vision loss, memory problems, dementia, stroke and even death, but the researchers noted that home monitoring has been linked to better and lower blood pressure readings.

A blood pressure test measures the force that the heart uses to pump blood throughout the body. Test results are expressed in two numbers, with the first representing the amount of pressure that the flow of blood puts on artery walls as the heart beats (called systolic blood pressure) and the second number representing the pressure on artery walls while the heart rests between beats (diastolic pressure).

The American Heart Association considers a reading of 120/80 to be normal blood pressure and consistent readings of 130/80 or higher to indicate high blood pressure. About 70 percent of U.S. adults 65 and older have high blood pressure, but many do not know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This article is part of The Post’s “Big Number” series, which takes a brief look at the statistical aspect of health issues. Additional information and relevant research are available through the hyperlinks.

Loading...