Primary Care

High blood pressure is common in men

young man taking his blood pressure while sitting on the sofa at home

According to the updated 2017 American Heart Association blood pressure guidelines, 79 percent of men over the age of 55 have high blood pressure. Are you one of them?

“The blood pressure guidelines were updated based on new research. They are designed to do a better job at preventing heart attack and stroke through earlier treatment,” says Jeanette M. Sessoms, FNP, family nurse practitioner at Riverside Eastern Shore Family Medicine.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against your blood vessel walls. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when that force is higher than normal. 

High blood pressure is a serious condition that is often known as a silent disease because it has few signs and symptoms. If untreated, it can lead to other serious health problems like heart attack and stroke.

Your doctor will diagnose high blood pressure by reviewing your current and previous blood pressure numbers. Because of the updated guidelines, you may have the same blood pressure number months ago without a diagnosis but now you are considered to have hypertension. 

Whether your diagnosis is recent or long-standing, high blood pressure is a highly treatable condition that responds very well to lifestyle changes.

High blood pressure risk factors in men

While the majority of men over 55 have high blood pressure, it is also common in younger men. In fact, being male is a risk factor all by itself for those under the age of 64. Other risk factors include: 

  • Race, with African-Americans having a higher risk
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Age

How is high blood pressure treated?

High blood pressure is a condition with many effective treatment options including lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, and medication. Your doctor may also recommend regular monitoring at home using a blood pressure cuff. 

Monitoring blood pressure regularly helps connect how food, exercise, sleep and other lifestyle changes affect your numbers. 

Men are less likely to get blood pressure under control

Despite many effective treatment options, men are less likely than women to get their blood pressure numbers under control, according to The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. So, what gives?

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, one of the problems getting in the way of better blood pressure control for men is awareness. Many men simply don’t know they have high blood pressure. In addition, men are less likely to make routine visits to the doctor.

“Many men aren’t aware they have high blood pressure in the first place and without regular trips to the doctor, this mostly silent disease can go unnoticed and untreated,” says Ms. Sessoms.

Treatment side effects can also be a barrier to good blood pressure control. Some medications may cause erectile dysfunction which can prevent some men from adhering to treatment recommendations. However, ignoring high blood pressure can also lead to additional health problems. 

“Certain medications can decrease the side effects, including erectile dysfunction. It’s best to talk through any side effect concerns with your doctor,” says Ms. Sessoms.

Get some help with your numbers

High blood pressure, if caught early, is a very treatable condition. By dealing with your high blood pressure and getting your numbers into range, you will help prevent serious complications like heart attack and stroke.  

Do you want to get your numbers in line? Schedule an appointment with one of our primary care doctors today.

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