The Effect of Age on Hypertension Control and Management*

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Abstract

Background:

Despite guidelines recommending similar blood pressure (BP) treatment goals regardless of age, controversy exists regarding treating those ≥80 years of age. Whether this affects current practice in terms of differences in BP control and number of prescribed antihypertensives by age is unknown.

Methods:

This was a cross-sectional study of 59,207 outpatients with hypertension treated at 10 Veterans Health Administration sites. Outcome measures were BP control (<140/90 mm Hg) and number of antihypertensive medications at the patient's last study visit. Uncontrolled BP was also categorized by whether systolic, diastolic, or both were elevated.

Results:

Subjects 40 to 49 years and those 50 to 59 years of age had better BP control (adjusted odds ratios 1.35 [95% CI = 1.26 to 1.44] and 1.22 [CI = 1.17 to 1.28] respectively) compared with subjects 60 to 69 years of age; those 70 to 79 years of age and ≥80 years had worse control (OR = 0.92 for both; respective CIs = 0.88 to 0.96 and 0.86 to 0.99). Antihypertensive medication use increased by successive decade to age 80 years, after which the trend reversed. Adjusted mean number of medications by age were: <40 years, 2.60; 40 to 49, 2.82; 50 to 59, 2.91; 60 to 69, 3.01; 70 to 79, 3.03; ≥80 years, 2.90 (P < .05 in pairwise comparisons). The trend of number of medications by age did not vary across hypertension categories, despite systolic hypertension increasing and diastolic hypertension decreasing with age. Subjects <40 years of age were taking the fewest medications, followed by subjects ≥80 years and then by those 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 70 to 79, and 60 to 69 years of age.

Conclusions:

The oldest hypertension patients, despite worse BP control, are being treated less aggressively with fewer medications than their younger counterparts (those 60 to 79 years of age). Our results suggest that current controversy in treating the oldest hypertensive patients is having an impact on actual practice.

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