Cardiovascular Risk Prevention Efforts Needed in Older Adults

Approximately 40% of whites and 50% of blacks over 45-years-old developed high blood pressure over 10 years.

Preventing cardiovascular risks in an important health concern regardless of age. Even older adults can develop cardiovascular risks later in life, highlighting the need for increased prevention efforts in this population, a recent study found.

The development of risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol is prevalent in adults over 45-years-old, and can even extend to adults over 75-years-old. Another study discovered that 48% of strokes would not occur if hypertension was eliminated, making it the most significant modifiable stroke risk factor.

Lifestyle modification, such as increased physical activity would also avoid many strokes per year. Developing these risk factors was also 25% to 100% higher in the black population, compared with the white population, according to the current study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“Much of the attention on prevention of risk factors has been focused on young people. We have shown that there is a high risk of developing risk factors, particularly for blacks, even among the elderly population,” said lead author of the study George Howard, DrPH. “It is important that healthcare professionals educate people of all ages on what they need to be doing to prevent these risk factors for stroke and heart disease.”

Findings from the study showed that 40% of whites and 50% of blacks who were above 45-years-old and had good blood pressure levels, went on to develop high blood pressure over the 10-year study period.

Investigators also found that 15% of white patients and 20% of black patients over 45-years-old who did not have diabetes at the beginning of the study developed diabetes during the course of the study.

Their findings suggest that blacks have a higher risk of stroke and heart attack compared with whites, likely because a higher portion of the black population have cardiovascular risk factors, according to the study.

“This study underscores the important message that preventing the development of risk factors is important across the entire lifespan, and cardiovascular disease prevention needs to be addressed at all ages,” Dr Howard said. “If we can prevent the development of risk factors no matter a person's age, it will significantly reduce the chance of a person having a stroke or heart attack.”