Controlling blood pressure in older individuals may increase mortality rates

Aging
blood pressure control

A recent study assessed whether controlling blood pressure with anti-hypertensive treatment would be associated with a reduced rate of morality.

High blood pressure is one of the most prevalent health concerns in adults across the globe. A recent study aimed to understand whether maintaining normal blood pressure values would have an impact on life expectancy in older adults.

Global debate on blood pressure values

There has been a lot of debate over blood pressure values in the medical community, due to the widespread prevalence of blood pressure changes. Researchers in Berlin, Germany wanted to assess the prevalence of blood pressure values and their impact on the mortality rate for older residents in Berlin. They published their results in the European Heart Journal.

This prospective study utilised a patient database spanning November 2009 to June 2011. The follow-up time for the patients was a median of 73 months and the study ended in December 2016. The researchers took into consideration age, smoking, and alcohol consumption status. It was also noted whether the patients were diabetic or not, and the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin was considered.

The type of antihypertensives used included diuretics, beta-blockers and angiotensinogen-inhibitor drugs.

Normalizing blood pressure increased the risk of mortality in older individuals

Surprisingly, the results showed that normalising the blood pressure increased the risk of mortality. When further investigation was done, it was found the systolic blood pressure less than 130mmHg had greater value in being attributed to the higher mortality rates than the diastolic value. This increased with age, going to over 40% higher risks for those over 80 years of age. The risk was high in patients who had succumbed to previous cardiovascular disorders.

The study results show that although controlling blood pressure may be good for overall health, more research is needed to determine what the effects normalising blood pressure are on mortality.

Written by Dr. Apollina Sharma, MBBS, GradDip EXMD

Reference: Douros, Antonios, et al. “Control of blood pressure and risk of mortality in a cohort of older adults: the Berlin Initiative Study.” European heart journal (2019).

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