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High Blood Pressure and Hypertension Handy Guide for the Elderly in Singapore

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Around 25% of Singaporeans between the ages of 30 and 69 suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure. Moreover, high blood pressure affects more than half of people in their 60s. 1 in 2 Singaporeans aged 60-69 has hypertension.

These statistics only prove that high blood pressure has become a common ailment not only in Singapore but in many parts of the world.

If untreated, high blood pressure can lead to other ailments. They include stroke, coronary artery disease, kidney failure, and heart failure.

Let’s learn more about high blood pressure and hypertension. This guide can be handy for all, especially those caring for elderly family members or patients.

More About Hypertension or High Blood Pressure Management

You have to know all you can about high blood pressure when dealing with Singapore elderly care. You never know when you will save lives simply by recognizing the symptoms before they can wreak havoc on the patient’s health.

Blood pressure is the power the human heart uses to pump blood throughout the body. It pumps blood so all regions of the body receive nutrients and oxygen. Blood is pushed through the body at a higher pressure when someone has high blood pressure, often known as hypertension.

However, your blood pressure doesn’t remain the same; it fluctuates constantly. It changes as you work out, experience fear, suffer pain, and so on.

It also becomes worse and more difficult to control as you age. Yet, some people constantly have high blood pressure, which puts a lot of strain on the artery walls.

Since your blood pressure changes depending on how you feel, what you’re doing, and what time of day it is, you need to ensure to get an accurate reading. The best way to get this done is by taking a blood pressure reading under resting conditions or when your heart relaxes.

Here are some of the instances when you can expect your blood pressure to rise:

  • Your blood pressure will elevate upon consumption of too much salt. This is because salt causes the body to retain more water, and your blood volume increases.
  • You will also likely have high blood pressure when you get rigid blood vessels. It happens as a result of atherosclerosis. It is a condition in which fatty molecules accumulate in the blood vessel walls, making your blood vessels stiffer.

More About Systolic Pressure and Diastolic Blood Pressure

Two numbers comprise a blood pressure reading: systolic and diastolic. These are the two elements you’ll see when getting blood pressure measurements.

Systolic pressure is the first number in the reading, which gives results according to the pressure in your arteries with each beating heart.

On the other hand, diastolic pressure, the second number, gives results based on the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest in between its beat.

Therefore, this is how you read your blood pressure. For example, if you got 110 systolic and 70 diastolic, it will be written as 110/70 mmHg or 110 over 70 when you say it.

So what is a normal blood pressure or a healthy blood pressure reading? As long as you don’t go over 130/80 mmHg, you still don’t have high blood pressure.

Even though hypertension typically has no symptoms, it frequently results in long-term organ damage. This is why hypertension or high blood pressure is generally called the silent killer.

It can cause heart disease and blood vessel damage over time, resulting in other health ailments. Sometimes, when the blood pressure is too high, headaches, dizziness, or vision changes can occur.

Moreover, hypertension is more likely to occur in older adults. But most patients have shown no known cause for their high blood pressure. In this case, blood pressure is categorized as essential hypertension. On the other hand, secondary hypertension refers to high blood pressure patients who develop the ailment after suffering from hormonal disorders or kidney disease.

Hypertension Singapore – How to Measure Blood Pressure at Home?

According to Singapore’s 2010 National Health Survey, the prevalence of hypertension among residents aged 30 to 69 decreased over time. From having 27.3% data in 1998, it went to 24.9% in 2004. And the record further went down to 23.5% of Singaporeans last 2010.

This is why monitoring a person’s blood pressure is important to understand their risk factors for developing hypertension. Remember, it’s a silent killer, so the best way to avoid cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nutritional deficiency diseases, heart disease, damaged body organs, and other ill effects of high blood pressure is to know when it’s present.

If you are a young healthy woman or man with low risk factors of high blood pressure, you must still get blood pressure readings every three years. However, if a family doctor has warned you about developing complications and you’re already taking blood pressure medications, you must get a blood pressure measurement more often.

It’s up to the doctor to say how frequently, especially when they are concerned about your blood pressure showing high results once and then lower blood pressure after several hours or days.

It’s now easy to monitor high blood pressure at home with the availability of various blood pressure testing devices. Here are the things you must follow to ensure you’ll get the closest accurate readings from blood pressure devices:

  • Do not exercise, smoke a cigar, or drink caffeine for half an hour before checking your blood pressure.
  • Before using a device to test your high blood pressure, make sure that you have fully rested for five minutes or more.
  • Check that the device has an arm cuff appropriate to your size.
  • It’s best to pee before checking your high blood pressure.
  • Sitting when measuring your blood pressure is better than lying or standing.
  • Be still and avoid talking while getting your blood pressure reading.
  • Make sure the area where you will place the cuff is free from any clothing.
  • To be certain about the reading, get it twice at different times to get an estimate of your blood pressure level.

Do it on both arms because you never know when an arm has some ailments causing the reading to show higher or lower numbers. If you see a difference of 10 or more mm Hg in the readings done on both arms, you likely have other health issues. They include diabetes, or certain blood vessels and arteries may be blocked.

If your blood pressure reading appears higher than 130/80 even after you’ve repeated the process, seek a doctor’s advice fast. Make sure that you do something about it before this silent killer gets another life.

Stages of High Blood Pressure

The stages of high blood pressure or hypertension differ in countries. In Singapore, the classifications are as follows:

Normal

As long as your blood pressure reading doesn’t go beyond 130/80 mm Hg, it is still within the normal range. You don’t need to do anything about it, but continue maintaining a healthy body weight to sustain heart and blood vessels and normal blood pressure levels.

Pre-hypertensive

You are considered to be under this category if you have a blood pressure reading between 130/80 and 139/89 mmHg. You now have a marginally elevated blood pressure that increases your risk of developing heart failure. Taking medications at this point is still unnecessary, but take extra care of yourself.

Start lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake, and exercising regularly. As long as regularly done, these changes will decrease your marginally higher blood pressure without taking medications.

Hypertensive

You will have high blood pressure diagnosed when the reading shows 140/90 mmHg and above. You will also need drastic lifestyle changes, such as eating right, exercising, and limiting your alcohol intake.

Your doctor will also prescribe medications you will need to take regularly. All these steps are necessary to lower your risk of developing coronary heart disease and other ailments. They also effectively manage high blood pressure and reduce the readings over time.

Common Complications of Elevated Blood Pressure

When you don’t do anything about your high blood pressure, the excessive pressure it causes in the artery walls can damage blood vessels leading to blockage in the blood flow. The longer you leave it, the more damage it will create. All the blood pushing may eventually elevate your blood cholesterol and blood glucose, leading to other ailments.

Here are the common complications you may experience when you leave high blood pressure untreated and unmanaged:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Stroke or heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Vascular dementia
  • Aneurysm
  • Having difficulty understanding and trouble with memory
  • Vision loss
  • Kidney failure

How to Manage Blood Pressure

Tips in treating blood pressure

Home treatment for high blood pressure is possible, but first, you must check with your doctor when it gets too high that it already requires medication.

By understanding blood pressure, you are already on your way to managing high blood pressure symptoms before your condition worsens.

Exercise regularly

Even older adults must engage in regular physical activities like walking or running. You can also engage in exercises that do not require big movements, such as yoga or tai chi.

Lower your stress levels

If you frequently feel stressed out, identify the source of your stress and work to reduce it as much as possible. Set aside time for the activities you enjoy doing, cultivate gratitude, and control your expectations.

Keep an eye on your weight and body mass index (BMI)

Maintaining a healthy body weight reduces your chances of having elevated blood pressure. You can achieve this by watching what you eat and following a healthy lifestyle. These steps will keep you fit and help sustain a body mass index suitable for your age.

Consult with your doctors

Your doctor might suggest specific drugs to help manage hypertension. You must take your meds as prescribed. Inform your doctor immediately if you encounter any negative effects so they can immediately change the prescription.

Eat a balanced diet

Reduce your bad cholesterol intake and avoid eating anything with the high cholesterol content. They include animal fats, egg yolks, organ meats, shellfish, and squid. Choose low-fat dairy products, lean meat, fish, and fish, and eat more fruits and vegetables.

Reduce alcohol consumption

If you have to drink, do it in moderation. A single alcoholic drink can temporarily raise your blood pressure. However, the effects will typically pass after two hours. On the other hand, frequent heavy drinking can cause a steady increase in blood pressure and other ailments.

Stop smoking

Smoking raises blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke and other heart issues.

Final Thoughts

While this guide is intended for elderly care, the information and tips can be used by anyone with elevated blood pressure, regardless of your age. However, if you are caring for an older adult, you must be extra careful in ensuring they are getting monitored by their doctors. You must also give them proper nutrition and remind them to engage in physical activities whenever possible.

If you are still finding it hard to assist an elderly family member in dealing with hypertension, RC Caregivers is here to help. We specialize in eldercare services in Singapore, and you can trust that we’d give your loved ones the proper care and health management they deserve.

Joshua is the founder of RC Caregivers. Having been the primary caregiver of his father, he has been undertaking ways to provide affordable and quality care, not just to his father, but to all elderly in Singapore. He has founded multiple care companies, such as Red Crowns Senior Living, and has been featured in Straits Times, Zaobao and Money 93FM. He has also been lauded by DBS, with the company being the recipient of the DBS foundation grant.
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