Harvard Heart Letter

Age no barrier to blood pressure control

New work shows it's never too late to treat high blood pressure.

Much is known about the benefits of treating high blood pressure. It helps prevent strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, and premature death from cardiovascular disease. One of the persistent questions is this: do elderly folks with high blood pressure reap these benefits, too?

Doctors have worried that treating high blood pressure in people over age 75 or 80 might cause more trouble than it prevents. The possibility exists that taking medicine to lower blood pressure could harm the heart, kidneys, or brain, cause faints or falls, or lead to harmful interactions with medications for other conditions. The completed Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial (HYVET) allays some of those worries.

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