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Seniors with low blood pressure have higher risk of death, study finds

Researchers say low blood pressure is often even worse than high blood pressure

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Photo (c) Cecilie_Arcurs - Getty Images
Problems with high blood pressure are common among consumers who have trouble managing their diet or stress levels, but low blood pressure can be just as bad -- especially for older consumers. 

In fact, a recent study suggests that low blood pressure can be even more dangerous than high blood pressure for seniors over the age of 75. Researchers from the University of Exeter found that blood pressure levels below 130/80 increased risk of death by 62 percent if an older person could be described as “frail.”

"Internationally, guidelines are moving towards tight blood pressure targets, but our findings indicate that this may not be appropriate in frail older adults,” said Jane Masoli, a geriatrician and lead author of the study. 

Low blood pressure could be more dangerous

The researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing electronic medical records on over 400,000 consumers. In addition to their 130/80 mortality finding, the team discovered that health outcomes for people with low blood pressure were often worse when compared to those who had high blood pressure. 

Although high blood pressure is associated with certain cardiovascular issues like heart attack and stroke, the researchers said that mortality rates for those over the age of 75 who had this condition did not increase. In those over the age of 85, they actually reduced the risk of death. Masoli says that these findings could have implications for how medical professionals treat seniors with blood pressure issues. 

“We need more research to ascertain whether aggressive blood pressure control is safe in older adults, and then for which patient groups there may be benefit, so we can move towards more personalised blood pressure management in older adults," she said.

"We know that treating blood pressure helps to prevent strokes and heart attacks and we would not advise anyone to stop taking their medications unless guided by their doctor," she added as a precaution.

The full study has been published in the journal Age and Ageing.

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