How Low Should You Go?
Aggressively treating high blood pressure may not be good medicine after age 80, according to a new study reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Volume 55, page 383)In this study, researchers looked at the medical records of more that 4,000 veterans age 80 and older with high blood pressure. Participants who lowered their blood pressure to just below the upper limit of normal – 139/89 mm Hg – were less likely to die of any cause over a five year period than those who reduced their blood pressure to lower levels. This relationship held when the researchers took into account other illnesses that can lead to premature death. These findings do not contradict current guidelines that recommend lowering blood pressure to below 140/90 mm Hg. But they do suggest that aggressive lowering of blood pressure beyond this level could be harmful for people over age 80, possibly because of reduced blood flow to vital organs. If you are 80 or older and experience any symptoms of aggressive blood-pressure lowering such as dizziness, weakness, or thinking problems tell your doctor who then may make changes to your treatment regimen.
Johns Hopkins Health Alerts, Hypertension and Stroke August 2008

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