New Recommendations on High Blood Pressure in Older Adults
The collaborative efforts of nine health organizations have resulted in new recommendations regarding the treatment of high blood pressure in adults age 65 and older. Details of the recommendations are in the form of an expert consensus document, which falls short of full practice guidelines for now.
Hypertension affects more than half of seniors
The authors of the document reported that the target blood pressure should be less than 140/90 mmHg, although a range of 140 to 145 mmHg would be acceptable for individuals who are 80 years old. Among younger people, a normal blood pressure reading is considered to be less than 120/80 mmHg.
The prevalence of high blood pressure among older adults is a concern: about two-thirds of men and three-quarters of women have hypertension, which is a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Despite the large numbers of seniors with the disease, clinical trials often have not included this age group, which has stymied efforts to know how to treat the disease.
After the results of the Hypertension in the Very Elderly (HYVET) trial were reported in 2008, however, experts moved to work on a consensus document on treatment of high blood pressure in older adults. The results of HYVET showed that among people age 80 and older, reducing blood pressure led to a significant reduction in death from stroke, all-cause death, and heart failure.
The new recommendations have not yet been given full practice guideline status because “the evidence base, the experience with technology, and/or clinical practice are not considered sufficiently well developed to be evaluated by the formal ACC/AHA practice guidelines process,” noted the authors of the document.
In the document, the authors recommended the following: