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Treating Hypertension as You Age

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If you take medication for high blood pressure, you may be wondering how aging affects your treatment. Recently a reader asked: Now that I'm over age 65, should I be making any changes in my blood pressure medications? What about after age 80? Is it still important to treat high blood pressure at that age? Here’s what the research recommends.

It's essential to control blood pressure, whatever your age. A review, published in BMJ, examined the benefits of blood pressure treatment in about 190,000 people younger and older than age 65. The results clearly showed that controlling blood pressure is just as beneficial in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke in older adults as it is in younger ones.

Also, no particular class of blood pressure medication was better at reducing the risk in older than in younger people. So if a drug effectively lowers your blood pressure, stick with it even as you get older.

What about people age 80 and up? Treating high blood pressure in this age group produces significant reductions in deaths from heart attack and stroke. In a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, 4,000 people older than 80 with high blood pressure took a placebo or a thiazide diuretic (alone or in combination with an ACE inhibitor). After two years, blood pressure was reduced by 15/6 mm Hg in the treatment group, compared with the placebo group. The treatment group was also 34% less likely to develop heart failure or have a heart attack or stroke.

What's more, people in the treatment group were no more likely to have drug side effects, such as low potassium levels or increased levels of blood glucose, uric acid, or creatinine.

Posted in Hypertension and Stroke on February 16, 2010
Reviewed January 2011

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer

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The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Scientific American Health After 50 or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.

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