The risk of heart disease in seniors is reduced with intensive hypertension treatment without increasing the risk of falls or other complications. Study author Dr. Jeff Williamson said, “These findings have substantial implications for the future of high blood pressure therapy in older adults because of its high prevalence in this age group, and because of the devastating consequences high blood pressure complications can have on the independent function of older people.” These new results come from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT).
The study included over 2,600 seniors over the age of 75 who were randomly assigned to either intensive systolic blood pressure target of 120 mm Hg or the standard target of 140 mm Hg. Those in the intensive group required one additional medication on order to reach their goal.
Patients in the intensive group reduced their risk of a heart attack by one-third and were 25 percent less likely to die.
Williamson added, “Some of the most vulnerable ambulatory people in the community who may suffer complications of high blood pressure can benefit from intensive blood pressure lowering and it is safe to do so. If you look at elderly people who are hospitalized in the year that they become disabled and have to leave their home, about half the time those diagnoses or hospitalizations result from complications of [high blood pressure], like heart failure, stroke and heart attack.”
“This is a fairly inexpensive way to help prolong the time that people can live independently in their homes and avoid those common conditions that often cause a person to have to move to higher level of care or an institution,” Williamson concluded.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on Blood pressure 2016: updated measurement guidelines generate controversy even as hypertension cases rise.