Modest increase in blood pressure among seniors has been linked to higher risk of heart failure and death. Recommended blood pressure readings for healthy people over 60 have been recently changed by the Joint National Committee (JNC) from 140/90 mm Hg to less than 150/90 mm Hg. The impact of these new guidelines on African Americans was unclear due to insufficient data available.
Study lead author Tiffany C. Randolph explained, “Given that blood pressure targets are not attained in up to 50 percent of clinical practice, providers may want to proceed cautiously when liberalizing these targets in a group at higher risk of all the downstream effects of hypertension, such as heart attack, stroke, and chronic kidney disease.”
The researchers analyzed high blood pressure and the risk of heart failure hospitalization and death in 5,280 African American patients with an average age of 56 years.
The researchers found that higher systolic blood pressure was associated with a higher risk of death and heart failure. With every 10 mm Hg increase, the risk of death raised 12 percent. The risk of death was the highest among patients under 60. For this age group, every 10 mm Hg increase in blood pressure resulted in a 26 percent increase in the risk of death.
Randolph added, “This observational study should make us question whether the current JNC guidelines have identified the optimal target for blood pressure control in the African American population. To fully answer this question, we will need additional large, randomized, controlled trials that enroll a diverse population. Until then, providers will have to continue assessing risk and working with patients to set blood pressure goals based on all the available data and individual patient concerns.”
High blood pressure is becoming an increasingly common condition, contributing to various life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Proper management of heart failure is important in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications. This can be done with lifestyle changes like eating well, losing weight, managing other health conditions, and exercising regularly.