Numerous double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies have documented that antihypertensive drug therapy reduces cardiovascular events in older adults. In the Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial, individuals 80 years of age and older treated with antihypertensive drug therapy had, at 1.8-year follow-up, a 30% reduction in fatal or nonfatal stroke, a 39% reduction in fatal stroke, a 21% reduction in all-cause mortality (p=0.02), a 23% reduction in death from cardiovascular causes, and a 64% reduction in heart failure. The goal of treatment of hypertension in older adults is to reduce the blood pressure to <140/90 mmHg and to <130/80 mmHg in older persons with diabetes or chronic renal insufficiency. Older adults with diastolic hypertension should have their diastolic blood pressure reduced to 80-85 mmHg. Diuretics should be used as initial therapy in persons with no associated medical conditions. The selection of antihypertensive drug therapy in persons with associated medical conditions depends on their medical conditions. If the blood pressure is >20/10 mmHg above the goal blood pressure, drug therapy should be initiated with two antihypertensive drugs, one of which should be a thiazide-type diuretic. Other coronary risk factors must be treated.
Key words: hypertension, older adults, antihypertensive drug therapy, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers.
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