What is isolated systolic hypertension?

Isolated systolic hypertension (isosystolic hypertension) is a kind of high blood pressure. If your systolic blood pressure is higher than 130 mm Hg and your diastolic blood pressure is less than 90 mm Hg, you may need to see a doctor.

Isolated systolic hypertension is most frequent in the elderly, but it can also affect the young.

It is frequently asymptomatic, but if left untreated, it can lead to catastrophic problems.

Isolated systolic hypertension is defined in this article, along with its symptoms, causes, and treatment options. It also looks at whether the relevant authorities regard it as a handicap.

What exactly is it?

Isolated systolic hypertension
close up of blood pressure meter

Blood puts pressure on the artery walls as it flows throughout the body. This is known as blood pressure.

A technician may check a person’s blood pressure as part of a health checkup. A blood pressure reading yields two numbers: systolic, or the upper or first number, and diastolic, or the lower or second number.

When the numbers in a person’s blood pressure rise over the usual range, they are said to have high blood pressure. When only the systolic number is high, it is called isolated systolic hypertension.

Isolated systolic hypertension is a high problem that must be addressed. Untreated systolic hypertension can lead to a number of significant consequences over time.

Who does it affect?

Systolic hypertension is more common in older people, according to a 2021 report. This kind of hypertension affects about 30% of people over the age of 60.

The risk of developing systolic hypertension is much lower in younger persons. Approximately 6% of individuals aged 40–50 and 1.8 percent of those aged 18–39 have the condition.

Young adults with high blood pressure or systolic hypertension, on the other hand, have a higher risk of getting heart disease or dying, according to study from 2016.

Symptoms

In most cases, high blood pressure, especially isolated systolic hypertension, has no obvious symptoms or indicators.

The only way to tell if someone has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is to obtain blood pressure measurements.

A healthcare practitioner, on the other hand, might check for indicators of a medical condition that might have produced isolated systolic hypertension, such as:

If isolated systolic hypertension has resulted in end-stage organ damage, a person may experience:

  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches
  • confusion
  • vision issues

Risk factors

The reasons of isolated systolic hypertension are the same as for regular high blood pressure.

The following are some possible causes and risk factors:

  • a diet containing high quantities of salt and processed foods and low levels of potassium
  • smoking
  • physical inactivity
  • obesity
  • consuming too much alcohol
  • genetics
  • family history of certain medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease

As a person gets older, they are more likely to acquire high blood pressure. Furthermore, Black people have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.

It can happen as a result of other conditions in rare cases, such as:

  • chronic kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • anemia
  • Paget’s disease of the bone
  • renal artery stenosis, which is the narrowing of the arteries that deliver blood to the kidneys
  • aortic insufficiency, which is a disease that affects the heart valve
  • hypothyroidism
  • hyperthyroidism
  • peripheral vascular disease, which restricts blood flow as a result of narrowed or blocked arteries
  • arteriovenous fistula, which is when there is an abnormal connection between an artery and vein

Diagnosis

The American Heart Association (AHA) altered the classification of isolated systolic high blood pressure in 2017 from any number greater than 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) to any number greater than 130 mm Hg.

A single high reading or isolated values above 130 mm Hg are not necessarily cause for alarm. A doctor may diagnose high blood pressure if a person’s systolic blood pressure is persistently above 130 mm Hg, according to the CDC.

However, some practitioners still utilize the old systolic pressure criteria of 140 mm Hg to diagnose hypertension. Even if a doctor cannot diagnose the condition, they may still recommend taking steps to assist lower blood pressure.

Treatment

A mix of lifestyle adjustments and medication therapies are used to treat isolated systolic hypertension.

The most important steps a person may take to treat or prevent high blood pressure, according to the AHA, are:

  • avoiding or limiting alcohol to no more than one drink per day for females and two per day for males
  • limiting sodium intake to less than 1.5 grams per day
  • exercising regularly
  • measuring blood pressure regularly
  • managing stress
  • quitting smoking
  • achieving and maintaining a moderate weight

A person may also find it beneficial to follow the DASH diet to help reduce high blood pressure.

A healthcare professional can recommend medications such as:

  • diuretics
  • angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • angiotensin receptor blockers
  • calcium channel blockers

Outlook

Within 8–10 years, 30% of people with mild to moderate high blood pressure are more likely to develop atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries. Organ damage can affect up to 50% of people.

Isolated systolic hypertension, if left untreated, can lead to:

Is it a handicap?

Isolated systolic hypertension does not always qualify for disability benefits. A person would have to show that their condition affects their capacity to work, just like any other condition.

Authorities may not consider high blood pressure to be a disability in some situations, but an underlying cause may be. The Social Security Administration (SSA), for example, does not identify hypertension as a qualifying condition, but it does list numerous disorders that might contribute to hypertension as reasons to apply for disability payments.

A veteran with isolated systolic hypertension can petition for disability payments through the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, just with the SSA, a person must meet specific criteria to be eligible.

A person with isolated systolic hypertension who believes they are unable to work should consult a physician. A doctor can assist the person in determining whether or not they are eligible for assistance.

Making a doctor’s appointment

Because isolated systolic hypertension rarely causes symptoms, a person is unlikely to realize they have it. Isolated systolic hypertension can be diagnosed by a clinician based on a few high blood pressure measurements over the course of a few to many visits.

A person who is being treated for high blood pressure or who is at risk for high blood pressure should monitor it at home on a frequent basis.

If their medicine isn’t working or their blood pressure begins to rise, they should see a doctor.

Conclusion

Isolated systolic hypertension (isosystolic hypertension) is a kind of high blood pressure. Though it is more frequent in older people, it can also affect younger people and raise their risk of heart disease or death. Typically, no symptoms appear.

Blood pressure is usually monitored, medications are used, and lifestyle adjustments are made. If treatment does not assist, a person should consult with their doctor.

Sources:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm
  • https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/docs/hypertension.pdf
  • https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/risk_factors.htm
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/isolated-systolic-hypertension
  • https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.06547
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482472/