Reducing systolic blood pressure to below 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) among adults ages 75 and older significantly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death from any cause, suggests a study published online in JAMA in May 2016.
Researchers found that an intensive treatment regime to decrease systolic blood pressure to less than 120 mm Hg resulted in a 25 percent lower risk of major cardiovascular events and premature death, compared with participants whose blood pressure was lowered to the standard threshold of less than 140 mm Hg.
The five-year randomized clinical trial, which included 2,636 participants, also showed there was a 27 percent lower risk of premature death from any cause among patients whose systolic blood pressure was below 120 mm Hg.
The findings come at a time when clinicians are debating how to set treatment goals for reducing systolic blood pressure among older people because of the potential for adverse effects from additional medications. In the study, participants in the intensive treatment group required, on average, one more medication to achieve the benefits of the therapy.
While a 120 mm Hg target is difficult to achieve and sustain, the study points to the importance of being vigilant about measuring your blood pressure and complying with your treatment plan, which always includes lifestyle improvements, even if medication is added.
Read more about how higher blood pressure goals may harm health.
Sherrie Negrea is a freelance writer and editor specializing in higher education and healthcare. Her work has appeared in U.S. News & World Report, University Business Magazine, Cornell Alumni Magazine, Cayuga Health, Binghamton University Magazine, Rutgers University Today, and many other periodicals. She lives in Ithaca, N.Y…