Lowering pressure significantly reduces risk of stroke and heart failure for those over 80, study finds
MONDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Despite some doctors' reluctance to do so, a new study finds that treating high blood pressure in patients 80 age and older can reduce the rate of stroke, heart failure and death from cardiovascular disease.
The degree to which elderly patients receive treatment for a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure, is controversial, with some physicians believing that aggressive treatment may do more harm than good.
"This elderly population is growing dramatically and we lack much information about how best to care for these patients," said Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.
Many doctors often think these patients are too old to treat, Krumholz said. "We get nihilistic by saying, 'Someone's 80 years old, what are you going to do at this point?' " he said. "The older you are, the less aggressively we treat you."
The study results were released Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine, to coincide with a presentation at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting, in Chicago.
In the Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial, an international team of researchers assigned 3,845 people 80 and older with high blood pressure to be treated with either a diuretic to lower their blood pressure or to receive a placebo.
After two years of therapy, the systolic blood pressure among patients taking the diuretic was 15 mmHg lower than patients receiving a placebo. And their diastolic pressure was 6.1 mmHg lower than the placebo patients, the researchers found. Systolic and diastolic pressures are the top and bottom numbers in a reading, respectively.
Most important, the rate of stroke among patients receiving the blood pressure medication wa
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