A normal BP reading is 120 or lower (systolic BP) / over 80 or lower (diastolic BP).
If the reading is consistently above 140 over 90 this is called hypertension.
When the top (systolic) reading is above 140 but the lower (diastolic) reading is below 90, this is called ‘isolated systolic hypertension’ (ISH) and usually affects older people after the age of 60.
ISH accounts for up to 80 per cent of cases of high blood pressure in this age group due to a reduction in the stretchiness or elasticity of the artery walls – part of the ageing process.
Various other risk factors include obesity, lack of exercise, genetics (i.e. one or both parents) and a high salt intake. Treatment can involve lifestyle changes such as salt restriction, exercise and weight loss and bear in mind that even if you do not add salt to your food, many ready meals contain a lot of hidden salt. We should not consume more than 6 grams (around a teaspoon of salt) per day, so always check food labels.
If the above measures fail to bring the systolic BP down after some months then your GP will start you on drug therapy.