Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers in Older Patients

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Older patients with hypertension are often inadequately treated due to misconceptions regarding reasonable goal blood pressures or concerns about treatment side effects. Adequately treating hypertension can yield impressive benefits in terms of improved morbidity and enhanced quality of life in persons of any age. Antagonists of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system are especially effective in older persons, many of whom have concomitant conditions such as diabetes mellitus, renal dysfunction, and other cardiovascular risk factors. Treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers has been shown to improve many of the complications of hypertension, including left ventricular hypertrophy and renal disease. Results of recent key studies such as Losartan Intervention For Endpoint Reduction in Hypertension (LIFE), Valsartan in Heart Failure Trial (Val-HeFT), Candesartan in Heart Failure Assessment of Reduction in Mortality and Morbidity (CHARM), and Valsartan in Acute Myocardial Infarction (VALIANT) add to the evidence that angiotensin II receptor blockers are well suited for the treatment of hypertension in older patients. These trials also indicate that they are appropriate therapy for heart failure patients and for patients who have experienced acute myocardial infarction, particularly those who are unable to tolerate an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor.

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