Treatment for Hypertension Extends Lives of Seniors

by Lois Etienne on March 18, 2011

in Senior Health and Safety

Question:  The last time my 80-year-old father was at his doctor’s office his blood pressure was elevated.  The doctor wants to put him on medication, but he doesn’t want any part of that.  He just doesn’t seem as interested about his health since mom died.   How can I convince him?

You can tell your dad about a recent review of nearly 15 studies over the past nearly 40 years.  Those studies show that older people – those 60 and older – seeking treatment for hypertension will live longer, healthier lives.

The review comprised more than 24,000 participants in which the oldest person was 105 years old and the average age was 74.  Studies took place between 1970 and 2008.

“Before the first definitive clinical-trial evidence supporting blood-pressure lowering treatment was produced in the mid-1980s, systolic hypertension was regarded as a natural feature of aging and some feared excessive harm from blood-pressure lowering in this age group,” said lead review author Dr. Vijaya Musini from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Systolic hypertension – in which the “upper” blood pressure measurement is 140 or higher – is more likely to occur in older people and experts now consider it a better predictor of heart attack and strokes than diastolic blood pressure.  Blood pressure measurements for the study patients averaged 172/81.

“Older people also accumulate higher rates of other risk factors for cardiovascular disease including obesity, a sedentary life style and diabetes,” Musini said.

The review, which appeared in the latest issue of The Cochran Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, concluded that treatment for hypertension reduced the overall number of fatalities whether or not they were associated with cardiovascular disease. Treating hypertension can also reduce the risk of stroke and disability, risk factors that are independent of those for heart disease.

The review also found that slightly different treatment works best for the “oldest old,” people over 80.  That’s why it’s so important for your father to listen to his doctor.  Perhaps your dad could also benefit from a little companionship at home.  Why not contact Home Instead Senior Care to learn how a CAREGiver could help him.

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