Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the bloodvessels (arteries) in the body. There are two blood pressure numbers – higher and lower. Thehigher number is systolic pressure and this is the pressure of arteries whenthe heart contracts. Diastolic pressure is the lower number, representing the pressurein the blood vessels between the beats, when the heart relaxes.
Optimal blood pressure for adults is considered to be below 120/80mm Hg. There are several types of hypertension, but in general, person with systolicpressure above 140mm Hg and diastolic higher than 90mm Hg is diagnosed withhigh blood pressure. Patient that has systolic pressure above 140mm Hg anddiastolic pressure under 90mmHg is diagnosed with isolated systolichypertension (ISH).
ISH treatment goal is to reduce the systolic pressure below140mm Hg, and to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke inthese patients. This conditionis frequent in older people, because the most common cause of ISH is aging.
ISH is treated with the same medications as any other hypertension.The most commonly used drugs are: angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEInhibitors), beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics.
ACE inhibitors work by relaxing the muscles around arteries,causing dilatation of these blood vessels and leading to decreased bloodpressure.
Beta blockers efficiently regulate the heart beats, decreasecardiac output (blood volume pumped by the heart in one minute) and dilate bloodvessels.
Calcium channel blockers are proven to be very successful intreating the isolated systolic hypertension. These medications stop the influxof calcium into the heart muscle cells. Less calcium leads to less heartcontraction and dilatation of arteries.
Diuretics are also important medications in this condition. Byremoving the fluid buildup from the body these drugs can lower high bloodpressure.
Lifestyle changes could also benefit patients with systolic highblood pressure. Specialists often advise ISH patients to exercise. Physical activity,especially, aerobic exercises are known to regulate high blood pressure. They alsostrengthen the heart and help the patients to maintain healthy weight.
Diet changes are also necessary. ISH patients are advised toavoid salt, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol and use plenty of fresh fruits andvegetables. Salty and fatty food should also be avoided. Nicotine (found in tobacco)causes constriction of the blood vessels, worsening the existing hypertension. Smokersare therefore advised to quit and all patients should avoid exposure to smoke.