Elderly Are Undertreated for Hypertension

Published Online: Saturday, October 1, 2005

One of the fastest-growing populations in the United States, and also one of the groups at highest risk of heart attack and stroke, is not receiving the proper antihypertensive care to prevent these events. In a study done by the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, researchers found that 75% of people aged 80 and over have hypertension, but 70% of those people are on only one blood pressure medication.

The researchers collected data on ~5300 participants enrolled in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study. Whereas hypertension and drug treatment increased with age, researchers found that control rates were sharply lower in older patients, especially women. For those 80 years old and over, only 38% of men and 23% of women had control over their hypertension. Also, this age group had a high rate of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke. During the 6 years of follow-up, 20.3% of patients with stage 1 hypertension and 24.7% of those with stage 2 hypertension had a major cardiovascular event.

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