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Isolated systolic hypertension: A health concern


When your heart beats, it undergoes a cardiac cycle involving two phases – the systolic phase, when the heart contracts to pump blood out, and the diastole phase, when the heart relaxes after contraction. The force of blood pushing against the artery walls is the blood pressure, and when this pressure is high, it leads to high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

Isolated Systolic Hypertension

The normal systolic blood pressure when the blood is ejected into the arteries is 120mmHg, and the diastolic blood pressure exerted within arteries between heartbeats is 80mmHg. The condition where the systolic blood pressure rises but the diastolic blood pressure remains within an acceptable range is known as isolated systolic hypertension. This kind of high blood pressure is a common occurrence in individuals over 65 years of age.

Therefore, the systolic number can be higher than 130 millimetres of mercury, while the diastolic number is lower than 90 millimetres of mercury.

Causes and risk factors for isolated systolic hypertension

The symptoms of hypertension do not display any warning signs. They are not easily detected, and, therefore, often go unnoticed. The same goes for isolated systolic hypertension. Untreated isolated systolic hypertension can cause –

  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Blurry vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Aneurysm (a bulge in the artery walls which can cause it to rupture possibly)

Some factors that cause this condition include –

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity or having a higher body mass index (BMI)
  • An overactive thyroid gland (Hyperthyroidism)
  • Atherosclerosis or artery stiffness. Calcium and collagen deposits in the arteries prevent them from expanding or contracting as they did at a younger age
  • Heart valve disease
  • Consuming food containing excess amounts of salt and fat
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle

Prolonged high systolic blood pressure can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and kidney diseases.

Management and treatment options

The symptoms of isolated systolic hypertension are not always noticeable. Therefore, it is necessary to check your blood pressure regularly and visit a healthcare professional for a regular checkup. Medications such as angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors block the formation of a specific enzyme that narrows blood vessels. Other effective medications may also include calcium channel blockers, which help the artery walls relax, and Thiazide-like diuretics that help kidneys get rid of excess sodium and water.

In addition to health expert-recommended medications, making lifestyle changes can aid in improving the systolic blood pressure reading. Some crucial changes include –

  • Regularly exercising and staying active
  • Consuming a healthy DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and avoiding junk and fast foods
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Staying hydrating
  • Avoiding harmful habits, such as smoking and drinking
  • Leading a stress-free lifestyle with the help of mindfulness meditation, yoga, or journalling – any activity that can help channel negative thoughts


Your heart health matters. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so your systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels are balanced. Discover more information with BP in Control’s online portal. Find expert physicians through our Find a Physician tool, ensuring early diagnosis and personalised intervention for health conditions.


1. How does isolated systolic hypertension differ from general hypertension?

While general hypertension sees a rise in both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings, isolated systolic hypertension occurs only when the systolic blood pressure increases and the diastolic blood pressure remains normal, resulting in a distinct blood pressure pattern.

2. How is isolated systolic hypertension diagnosed?

Diagnosing isolated systolic hypertension involves accurate blood pressure measurement. Healthcare specialists place the stethoscope over the brachial artery located in the upper arm to listen to the blood flow. The cuff inflates with a small hand pump, and when the arm is squeezed, blood flow through the artery stops for a moment, and that is when the blood pressure is measured. When the systolic blood pressure consistently exceeds 130 mmHg. Therefore, accuracy is crucial in getting the correct measurement for identifying isolated systolic hypertension.

3. What lifestyle changes can help manage isolated systolic hypertension?

Pertinent lifestyle modifications can play a defining role in managing isolated systolic hypertension. Adopt a heart-healthy diet rich in fiber, switch to low-fat dairy products, maintain a healthy weight, engage in physical activities, limit salt intake, refrain from smoking tobacco or drinking, and lead a stress-free life. Visit your healthcare provider frequently to identify any risk factors early on.

4. How often should individuals with isolated systolic hypertension see their healthcare provider?

Individuals, especially after the age of 40, should frequently visit their healthcare provider and have follow-up appointments to assess blood pressure levels, discuss treatment efficacy, and make necessary modifications. If you are undergoing any symptoms, such as chest pain, blurred vision, or persistent kidney issues, consider it a good time to consult your doctor without any delay.


Sources –

  • https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/high-systolic-blood-pressure
  • https://www.verywellhealth.com/high-systolic-blood-pressure-treatment-1764091
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/isolated-systolic-hypertension
  • https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24666-isolated-systolic-hypertension
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/hypertension/faq-20058527#:~:text=Isolated%20systolic%20hypertension%20happens%20when,people%20older%20than%20age%2065
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