Study proposes setting lower blood pressure target levels for older patients.

The latest hypertension guidelines of the American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association recommend a blood pressure treatment target for patients aged 65-79 of less than 140 mm Hg and, if tolerated, 140-145 mm Hg for those who are 80 years or older.

However, new analysis of the National I Institutes of Health’s (NIH) cohort study, called Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS), shows a “significant twofold increased risk of cardiovascular disease in elderly patients with systolic blood pressures >150 mm Hg as well as a significantly increased risk of coronary heart disease incidence.”

Results of the investigation also show that “while stroke rates were not significantly increased in elderly patients with higher blood pressures, there was an increased risk of all-cause mortality among individuals 55 to 74 years of age with systolic blood pressures >140 mm Hg.”

Investigators say that the REGARDS study generates a hypothesis that all patients over 55 years of age should have a target systolic blood pressure of less than 140 mm Hg, with optimal values possibly between 120 and 139 mm Hg.

In the REGARDS study, researchers attempted to measure the optimal level of blood pressure of 13,948 individuals in the U.S. stroke belt ― North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Patients were contacted by telephone every six months to assess stroke events, coronary heart disease events, and all-cause mortality. Medical records were also retrieved for suspected strokes and heart-disease hospitalizations and deaths.

Dr. Maciej Banach of Medical University of Lodz, Poland, said during the congress that there are “approximately one billion individuals worldwide with hypertension, a problem compounded by an aging population. In the US, 34 million adults are older than 65 years of age.”

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