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Reader: I am 91 years old and take atenolol 50mg twice daily. My blood pressure is 135/53. I have two questions. We are now told that the new suggested normal blood pressure is 120/80 or less. Is my top number (systolic) too high and the bottom (diastolic) number too low?

Dr. Zipes: As people age, the systolic pressure rises and the separation between systolic and diastolic pressure widens because the arteries become stiffer.

As long as you are not having any symptoms of low blood pressure, such as fatigue, lightheadedness, or blackouts, and your blood tests (easily checked by your doctor) are normal, I wouldn't worry about the low diastolic pressure. The new blood pressure values have been set lower because we now know that early deleterious changes to the body can occur with pressures less than 140/90, which was the previous cut-off. But, considering your age, your blood pressure is just about perfect! Not to worry.
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Title Annotation:Heart health: ask Dr. Zipes
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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