Blood pressure begins to fall 14 years before death


NEW YORK: Doctors have known for a long time that in the average person, blood pressure increases from childhood to middle age, but a new study warns that in the elderly, blood pressure begins to gradually decrease about 14 years before death.

The study that badyzed the medical histories of 46,634 British citizens who had died at age 60 or older showed that the decrease in blood pressure was not only present in people with hypertension, but also in those who had not diagnosed the condition.

The findings, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine of the American Medical Association, however, do not suggest that hypertension should not be treated at an advanced age or that those diagnosed with hypertension should discontinue their blood pressure medications.

 Always carry a blood pressure monitor, a glucose meter and a balance at home.

"Our work highlights the importance of conducting research to evaluate older patients like those seen in medical practices around the world." said one of the study authors George Kuchel of the University of Connecticut in the United States.

The researchers found that the decrease in blood pressure was more pronounced in patients with dementia, heart failure, weight loss at the end of life and, to begin with, those with high blood pressure.

But there were also long-term decreases without the presence of any of these diagnoses.

The findings should make both doctors and researchers carefully consider what the drop in blood pressure really means for older patients, Kuchel said.

More research is needed to find out why blood pressure decreases in the elderly in this way.

"Observational studies like ours should be followed by rigorous clinical trials in order to guide clinical care guidelines," Kuchel said.

 In most people with high blood pressure, no specific cause specific for hypertension can be identified.

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