Blood pressure drugs save lives in over-80 set
By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Treating high blood pressure in the very elderly can help reduce the risk of fatal strokes and other heart problems, British researchers said on Monday.
They said the finding sheds light on the benefits of offering treatment for hypertension among people over 80, a group that is often overlooked in medical studies.
"Our results clearly show that many patients aged 80 and over could benefit greatly from treatment. Populations are living longer and we have growing numbers of people living well into their 80s and beyond, so this is good news," said Dr. Christopher Bulpitt of the Imperial College London, who presented his findings at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago.
Bulpitt and colleagues studied 3,845 patients in their 80s with persistent high blood pressure. Half were treated with a diuretic or a placebo. Doctors added a drug in the ACE inhibitor class or a placebo for patients who needed more drugs to reach their blood pressure targets.
They found that very elderly patients whose hypertension was treated with a diuretic, with or without the ACE inhibitor, had a reduced risk of death from stroke and death from any cause.
"An unexpected finding of our trial is the reduction in the risk of death from any cause with active treatment, making (this study) one of the few individual studies of hypertension showing benefits of blood-pressure reduction on mortality," Bulpitt and colleagues wrote in the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
(Editing by Maggie Fox and Mohammad Zargham)