Features October 2008 Issue

You’re Never Too Old To Benefit From Hypertension Treatment

Recent findings confirm the benefits of lowering your blood pressure.

The risk of stroke grows as blood pressure rises above 115/75 mmHg. But because the risk of high blood pressure causing stroke lessens somewhat as we age, the effort of treating high blood pressure in the very elderly was not thought to be worth the trouble. However, results of the large Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial (HYVET), published in the May 1, New England Journal of Medicine, may change this practice. HYVET showed that lowering blood pressure with standard medications can improve both length and quality of life, regardless of the age at which treatment starts. "This was a very well-thought-out study," says Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Adam W. Grasso, MD. "The goal was not to treat to optimal levels, just to evaluate the results of lowering blood pressure with two common medications. The resulting decrease in all-cause mortality, heart failure and fatal stroke makes a convincing case that it makes sense to treat hypertension in the very elderly."

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