What Should Be the Target Blood Pressure for This Older Patient With Hypertension?: Grand Rounds Discussion From Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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Hypertension is prevalent and the most important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Controversy exists regarding the optimum threshold above which to begin antihypertensive therapy and the optimum target blood pressure once medication is begun. This controversy is particularly true for older patients, who may be more likely to benefit from treatment because of their higher risk for cardiovascular events, but may also be more at risk for adverse effects of treatment. Two guidelines published in 2017 address this issue. The American College of Physicians/American Academy of Family Physicians guideline recommends initiating antihypertensive therapy for older patients (aged 60 years or older) if systolic blood pressure is 150 mm Hg or higher and to treat to the same target. They recommend a lower threshold for starting treatment and a lower target systolic blood pressure (140 mm Hg) for patients with cerebrovascular disease and potentially those at high risk for cardiovascular events. The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guideline, which is based primarily on SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial), advises a target systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg for community-dwelling ambulatory patients aged 65 years or older. This article presents the case of a 79-year-old man who is contemplating antihypertensive therapy. Two experts discuss the optimal approach for the patient and suggest how to apply the 2 guidelines to his care.

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