A Lower Blood Pressure Goal Benefits Some Older Adults

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As people reach their later years, the benefits of taking more medication to lower blood pressure need to be weighed against the risks. The benefit of a reduced likelihood of suffering a cardiac event -- such as a stroke, heart attack, or heart failure -- shows up years later. On the other hand, the risks of dizziness, fainting, and falls from too-low blood pressure can happen within weeks of increasing medication dosages.

To get a better understanding of how long it takes to see the health benefits of aggressive blood pressure treatment in older people, researchers analyzed six previously published clinical trials involving more than 27,000 adults with high blood pressure, ages 60 and older, comparing usual care to more intensive blood pressure control.

The investigators found that it took 34 months after initiating more intensive blood pressure treatment -- with a goal for systolic blood pressure (the first number in a reading) of less than 140 mm Hg -- to see a meaningful reduction in the risk of a major cardiovascular event.

While in general, lower blood pressure is better, this study suggests an older person's prognosis should be considered along with other factors such as drug side effects when determining a personal blood pressure goal. The study was published online on May 9, 2022, by JAMA Internal Medicine.

This article was originally published by Harvard Men's Health Watch.

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