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Lowering blood pressure does not make sense for everyone affected by high blood pressure

Lowering blood pressure does not make sense for everyone affected by high blood pressure


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Increased risk of death from lowering blood pressure in old age

A German research team recently made a discovery that turned all previous guidelines on the subject of hypertension upside down. So far, doctors have assumed that it is healthier for people if their blood pressure is set below 140/90 mmHg. However, a large recent study showed that this increases the risk of death in older people.

Researchers at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin showed that the blanket recommendation to keep blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg is more harmful than beneficial. The team demonstrated to over 1,600 hypertension patients over the age of 70 that the risk of death in older people increases by as much as 61 percent due to reduced blood pressure. The research results were recently presented in the "European Heart Journal".

Do you have to rethink your blood pressure treatment?

According to the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, between 70 and 80 percent of those over the age of 70 have high blood pressure, which can lead to life-threatening heart diseases. As a rule, the treating specialists follow the recommendations of the specialist societies in order to keep the risks of heart diseases as low as possible. However, a Berlin research group warns that these guidelines could be too general.

Blood pressure recommendations cannot be generalized

For years, doctors have assumed that it is always healthier if the blood pressure is kept below 140/90 mmHg - regardless of age. The American colleagues have even gone one step further and have lowered the threshold from which one speaks of high blood pressure to 130/80 mmHg. The team led by Professor Dr. now shows that this assumption does not apply to all hypertension patients. Elke Schäffner: In certain patient groups, lowering blood pressure even increases the likelihood of death significantly.

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Are older hypertension patients treated incorrectly?

As the Berlin research group showed, those over 80 years of age suffering from hypertension were 40% more likely to die if their blood pressure was below 140/90 mmHg (compared to patients whose blood pressure was above 140/90 mmHg). This aspect became even clearer in the group that had previously suffered a heart attack or stroke. "Those who had blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg even increased their risk of death by 61 percent compared to those whose blood pressure remained above this limit despite drug treatment," the researchers write.

Researchers call for individual adaptation

"Our results make it clear that the treatment of high blood pressure in these patient groups should be individually adjusted," emphasizes study author Dr. Antonios Douros in a press release on the study results. He advises against applying the recommendations of the professional associations to all patient groups.

About the study

The team around Professor Dr. Elke Schäffner accompanied over 1600 participants with high blood pressure, all over 70 years old. The patients were asked every two years about their state of health and the medication they were taking. In addition, blood pressure and kidney function were measured and blood and urine were analyzed. Factors such as gender, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol consumption, diabetes and the number of antihypertensive agents were also taken into account. After six years, the team evaluated the data collected and came to the above result. "Next we want to investigate which patient groups actually benefit from a drop in blood pressure," explains the professor. (vb)

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