Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure exerted on the vessels by the blood as the heart beats. A high systolic blood pressure can indicate several things. Doctors can learn that a person may have isolated systolic hypertension, an expanding pulse range, or stiffness in the arteries. All of these conditions are often the result of aging and can either cause or result in other problems as well.
Medical professionals record blood pressure readings in fraction form. The systolic pressure is the numerator, and the denominator is called the diastolic pressure. The diastolic pressure measures the pressure in the blood vessels between heartbeats, while the heart is resting. The systolic pressure reports the pressure of blood inside the vessels when the heart contracts.
A high systolic blood pressure reading can indicate a condition called isolated systolic hypertension. It is the most common type of high-blood pressure in adults over 65, and an increase in systolic blood pressure is an indicator of aging in the body's circulatory system. People with isolated systolic hypertension can develop serious health issues such as heart disease, dementia, and chronic kidney disease. As people age, the systolic blood pressure naturally increases. Experts recommend frequent blood pressure monitoring because most people with isolated systolic hypertension do not experience any symptoms.
Doctors can also use systolic blood pressure measurements to determine if a patient has arterial stiffness. As large vessels in the body age, the elasticity of the vessel walls decreases due to years of repeated stress. Arterial stiffness occurs in individuals with lower diastolic pressure and higher systolic pressure.
Elevated systolic pressures may alert the doctor that a person has a widening pulse range. This is useful information to have, especially when treating older adult patients. It may indicate that the left heart ventricle is receiving an excessive amount of pulse pressure. As a result, the degree of stress on the heart walls causes a greater demand for nutrients and oxygen.
Doctors recommend that patients change their lifestyle to help reduce their elevated systolic blood pressure. Some of the changes include not using any tobacco products and trying relaxation techniques. Improvements in blood pressure reading can be seen in those who exercise regularly and limit sodium and caffeine intake. Many of the antihypertensive drugs used include diuretics, calcium channel blockers, and beta-blockers. Those with high-blood pressure can benefit from monitoring their results with an at-home device and by following the treatment plan provided by a physician.