Q: I am 65 years old and for some time my systolic blood pressure has remained elevated despite efforts to control my weight and intake of salt. One doctor has told me that medications are not indicated because my diastolic pressure has always been normal. I recently saw another doctor who recommended drug treatment.
A: The blood pressure measurement consists of two numbers -- the higher number is the systolic blood pressure, the lower is the diastolic pressure. The blood pressure is considered elevated if the systolic pressure exceeds 140 and/or the diastolic pressure is greater than 90.
Your problem, an elevation in only your systolic blood pressure (isolated systolic hypertension), increases in frequency with age, especially in those older than 60. While a number of epidemiologic studies have shown that isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) is associated with a greater likelihood of cardiovascular disease and death, until very recently there was no information on whether lowering the blood pressure in people with ISH would reduce these risks.