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'High blood pressure can be good for elderly'

Jyotsna Singh, New Delhi, July 20, 2012, DHNS:

High blood pressure can be good for the elderly, especially those who have frail bodies, says a study, which was centre of discussion at a private hospital here.

Doctors concluded that there is a need to look at hypertension and high blood pressure in context of individual bodies for more effective treatment.

The United States-based study published in July 2012 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, gathered data from 2,340 people over 65 years of age.


The participants were asked to walk for 20 feet. Those who walked at a rate of 0.8 meters per second or more were classified as healthy; the others were put in the category of frail.

The study found those with high blood pressure, 62 per cent of the participants, were less likely to die over the next five-year period.

Dr Amar Singhal, cardiologist at Balaji Action Hospital said as people age, blood vessels lose their elasticity, making it harder for the body to pump blood effectively.

Higher blood pressure could be a compensatory mechanism to overcome this loss of vascular elasticity and keep fresh blood pumping to the brain and heart.

A round table on ‘Hypertension in Elderly’, held at Action Balaji Hospital concluded that every elderly does not require lowering of blood pressure. However, healthy individuals with high blood pressure are 35 per cent more likely to die than those with normal blood pressure.

“When it comes to blood pressure, ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t really hold.

For elderly frail individuals, the primary focus should not necessarily be getting their blood pressure down.

Some of the medications used to treat high blood pressure, including diuretics and beta blockers, may confer more risk than benefit this group,” added Dr Singhal.

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