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Does blood pressure increase with age?

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Blood pressure and ageRisk factorsMedication optionsTipsSummary
As you age, the structure of your blood vessels can change, which increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Lifestyle factors can also contribute to higher blood pressure.
Medically reviewed by Dominique Fontaine, BSN, RN, HNB-BC, HWNC-BC
Written by D. M. Pollock
Updated on

Blood pressure refers to the pressure that pushes against the walls of your blood vessels, specifically your arteries.

Healthcare professionals measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

High blood pressure or hypertension is a reading of 130/80 mm Hg or higher.

The top number refers to systolic pressure, which is the pressure on your arteries as your heart contracts. Diastolic pressure, the bottom number, is the pressure on your arteries as your heart relaxes.

Age is a prominent risk factor for developing high blood pressure. As you age, the structure of your blood vessels starts to change.

For example, large artery stiffness typically occurs after age 50.

By knowing more about how your blood pressure changes with age, you can work with a doctor or other healthcare professional to determine your individual risk factors and find effective treatment if you need it.

Why does blood pressure typically increase with age?

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An increase in blood pressure with age is typically the result of changes to the stiffness of your artery walls, also known as calcification.

This process occurs when plaque, which consists of fat and cholesterol, builds up in your arteries. This buildup can make it harder for blood to move through your vessels, restricting blood flow and increasing arterial stiffness.

Without lifestyle changes or medical interventions, this plaque can continue to build up over time, causing further narrowing and stiffening of your arteries and increasing blood pressure.

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What are the risk factors for high blood pressure?

Alongside increasing age, other factors can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, including:

  • Ethnicity: Black people are at increased risk of high blood pressure than other populations.
  • Sex: Before age 55, males are more likely than females to develop high blood pressure. For females, the chances of developing high blood pressure increase after menopause.
  • Family history: You may be at higher risk of developing high blood pressure if it runs in your family.

Certain lifestyle factors can also increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, including:

  • being sedentary
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • smoking or vaping
  • having excess salt in your diet
  • not effectively managing stress
  • not getting enough potassium in your diet

Also, certain health conditions make you more likely to develop high blood pressure:

Medication options for high blood pressure

The best medication option depends on how high your blood pressure is and whether you have any existing medical conditions. It can take a while to find the most effective medication for high blood pressure.

Blood pressure medication options include:

  • Diuretics: Diuretics like Lozol remove extra water and sodium from the body, meaning less fluid flows through the veins and arteries, reducing the pressure.
  • Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: Drugs like Lotensin and Captopril relax the blood vessels by blocking the formation of a chemical that narrows blood vessels.
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs): ARBs, such as Edarbi and Atacand, block the action of a chemical that narrows blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure.
  • Calcium channel blockers: Medications like Norvasc prevent calcium from entering the heart and artery cells, allowing them to relax. This lowers blood pressure.
  • Beta-blockers: Medications like Lopressor and Tenormin reduce the force with which the heart beats.
  • Renin-inhibitors: Renin-inhibitors like Aliskiren slow down the formation of renin, which can trigger an increase in blood pressure.

If you need help covering the cost of medications, the free Optum Perks Discount Card could help you save up to 80% on prescription drugs. Follow the links on drug names for savings on that medication, or search for a specific drug here.

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Tips for lowering blood pressure

The following lifestyle habits can help you reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure as you age:

  • Exercise: Regular activity like walking can help lower your blood pressure.
  • Diet: A balanced diet and avoiding processed foods can help lower blood pressure.
  • Reducing your salt intake: Your body becomes more sensitive to salt as you get older, which can cause your blood pressure to spike. Avoiding excess salt can help you manage blood pressure levels and prevent hypertension.
  • Alcohol: Drinking increases your blood pressure. If you drink, reducing your weekly intake of alcohol can keep your blood pressure down.
  • Smoking: Smoking increases your risk for health issues like stroke and heart disease and contributes to higher blood pressure.
  • Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep can help lower your blood pressure. If you suffer from sleep apnea, treating it may help manage your blood pressure.
  • Manage your stress levels: Stress can cause an increase in blood pressure. Stress management techniques like breathing exercises and meditation may help manage your daily stress levels.


Your arteries and blood vessels as you age. This can increase your risk of high blood pressure. Factors like lifestyle, family history, and underlying health conditions can also contribute to hypertension.

Medications, including diuretics and ACE inhibitors, can help treat high blood pressure.

Also, adopting lifestyle habits like exercising, eating a balanced diet, and quitting smoking can help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure.

High blood pressure doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms. That’s why it’s essential to check your blood pressure at home.

If your readings are high, talk with a doctor or other healthcare professional about your treatment options.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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