Hypertension In The Elderly - Deserves More Attention
Dr. Marvin Moser, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Yale University, recently reviewed in a medical publication the topic of high blood pressure (hypertension) in octogenarians (people in their 80's). In this article, I will summarize some of the very important points that he made.
Hypertension (defined as a blood pressure over 140/90 mm Hg) affects more than two out of three individuals over 75 years of age. However, there has been a tendency not to treat these elevations in blood pressure with blood pressure lowering (anti-hypertensive) medications. This tendency is largely due to a common misconception that a normal systolic pressure is "100 plus your age." Thus, based on this mistaken idea, a systolic blood pressure of 170 in a 70-year-old person would wrongly be considered normal. Furthermore, there is the valid consideration that a too rapid or too great of a reduction of blood pressure may be poorly tolerated in older people. In fact, studies have shown that mild hypertension is often not treated in this age group. For example, only 25 % of patients with systolic pressures as high as 180-185 mm Hg currently are being treated.
To look further at the significance of this situation, Dr. Moser reviewed the results of several large treatment trials. He collected information on more than 700 octogenarians with hypertension who were treated with blood pressure lowering medications. These data were compared to the data in a similar number of octogenarians who were not treated.