Overtreatment of hypertension in the elderly?

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In a representative population sample of 619 70-year-old people, 26% were taking antihypertensive treatment. Twenty per cent (n=32) of them showed no signs of cardiovascular disease and had a blood pressure of <175/95 mmHg. Treatment was withdrawn in 25 of the 32 patients. Casual blood pressure, blood pressure during isometric exercise and left ventricular morphology and function were studied repeatedly over 2 years, using non-invasive methods. A significant increase in mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures was observed in the 14 patients who completed the study. No change was observed with respect to left ventricular morphology and left ventricular diastolic function. A statistically significant decrease in left ventricular fractional shortening, but no clinical signs of congestive heart failure were observed. Withdrawal of antihypertensive treatment in elderly patients free from signs of cardiovascular disease may thus be attempted without harmful effects on cardiovascular function.

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