Hypertension Home > Isolated Systolic Hypertension
Isolated systolic hypertension is diagnosed when only systolic blood pressure is high (more than 140 mmHg). Isolated systolic hypertension is the most common form of high blood pressure for older Americans. Risk factors for isolated systolic hypertension include being older, being overweight, smoking, and having diabetes. If left uncontrolled, isolated systolic hypertension can lead to congestive heart failure, stroke, or heart attack.
Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure inside a person's blood vessels. So, of course, high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) occurs when the pressure within blood vessels is too high.
There are two pressures measured for blood pressure -- pressure while the heart is beating (known as systolic pressure) and pressure while it is relaxed (known as diastolic pressure). When only the systolic blood pressure is high, the condition is called "isolated systolic hypertension."
Blood pressure is the amount of force (pressure) that blood exerts on the walls of the blood vessels as it passes through them. As blood is pumped from your heart into your blood vessels, enough pressure is created to send it to all other parts of your body.
To measure your blood pressure, a cuff of fabric is wrapped around your arm and then slightly inflated. The blood pressure shows up on a gauge attached to the cuff. The healthcare provider reads the numbers from the gauge as air is released from the cuff. This device that reads blood pressure is called a sphygmomanometer. Blood pressure can also be measured with a blood pressure machine.
The two numbers that measure your blood pressure are written like a fraction: one number on top and one on the bottom. For example, what many people consider "normal" blood pressure is read as 120/80. The number on top is called the systolic pressure. It measures the pressure inside your blood vessels at the moment your heart beats. The number on the bottom is your diastolic pressure. It measures the pressure in your blood vessels between heartbeats, when your heart is resting.