Skip to Content

Aggressive Blood Pressure Treatment Does Not Put Seniors at Risk: Study

SATURDAY, Sept. 7, 2019 -- Intensive treatment to lower high blood pressure can decrease older adults' risk of sharp blood pressure drops that can cause dizziness and increase the likelihood of falling, a new study says.

It included more than 2,800 patients, average age 63, who had recently suffered a stroke.

Half received more aggressive treatment to lower their blood pressure to below 130/80 mm Hg. The others got less intensive therapy with a target of between 130-149/80-90 mm Hg or more.

Blood pressure levels and symptoms were monitored over an average 15 visits per patient. During each visit, blood pressure was measured three times while a patient was seated and one time after two minutes of standing.

This was done to detect any changes and symptoms of orthostatic hypotension (OH), a sudden drop in blood pressure that can occur when a person goes from sitting to standing.

OH is associated with dizziness and increased risk of falling.

More aggressive blood pressure treatment and systolic blood pressure of 130 mm/Hg or under was associated with a lower risk of OH. Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a reading and represents the force of blood flow against the arteries when the heart contracts.

The study was presented Saturday at an American Heart Association meeting, in New Orleans. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

While good blood pressure control helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, it's long been believed that aggressive treatment could increase older adults' risk of falls, which can result in fractures, lengthy hospital stays and death.

One in four older adults has a fall each year, according to the National Council on Aging.

"Falls can be devastating in this older population. As a result, there is substantial concern about anything that might increase their fall risk," said study lead author Dr. Stephen Juraschek, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

"However, our study provides strong evidence that intense blood pressure treatment does not induce orthostatic hypotension or its symptoms," he added in a heart association news release.

Previous studies have yielded inconclusive findings.

© 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

Read this next

How to Keep High Blood Pressure at Bay

SATURDAY, Oct. 17, 2020 -- To mark World Hypertension Day this Saturday, the American Heart Association offers advice on how to lower and control your blood pressure. High blood...

AHA News: Despite Recent Setbacks, Americans' Blood Pressure Has Dropped Dramatically Since 1960

MONDAY, Oct. 5, 2020 (American Heart Association News) -- Blood pressure among adults decreased significantly during a 45-year period, according to new research that may offer...

AHA News: High Blood Pressure May Cause Poor Communication Between Brain Regions

MONDAY, Sept. 21, 2020 (American Heart Association News) -- A test that measures blood flow changes in the brain shows people with high blood pressure are more likely to...