Is it normal for blood pressure and blood sugar to rise as we age?

When it's a problem and when it's not

Published: March 14, 2015 06:00 AM

Q. My bloood pressure and blood sugar have been rising slowly over the past 10 years but are still in a healthy range. Should I worry?

A. If you are otherwise healthy, small, steady increases in blood pressure and blood glucose that are still within the normal range are probably nothing to worry about. If your health habits need a tuneup, rising numbers are a reminder to take action before they become a threat.

Lifestyle changes can often help control rising blood pressure. So quit smoking, cut back on sodium, lose excess weight, exercise regularly, and drink moderately, if at all. These same healthy habits are also key to keeping blood sugar levels in check.

It’s also worth noting that the new expert thinking is that slightly higher blood pressure is OK for adults older than 60, says Consumer Reports chief medical adviser Marvin M. Lipman, M.D. And because blood sugar processing slows with age, Lipman says, adults older than 70 may not need the strict blood sugar control that’s important for younger people to prevent future complications.

Find out what to look for when buying a home blood pressure monitor and learn more how to choose a blood glucose meter. And read more about how to prevent and treat heart disease and diabetes.

Editor's Note:

A version of this article also appeared in the January 2015 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

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