In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, researchers showed that blood pressure in older people gradually decrease 14 years before the end of life.
The study is from the University of Exeter. One author is Professor George Kuchel.
In the average person, blood pressure rises from childhood to middle age. But normal blood pressure in the elderly has been less certain.
Previous research has shown that blood pressure might drop in older people. The treatment for high blood pressure has been hypothesized as explaining late-life lower blood pressures.
In this study, the team examined the electronic medical records of 46,634 British citizens who had died at age 60 or older.
The participants included people who were healthy and those who had conditions such as heart disease or dementia.
The researchers found blood pressure declines were steepest in patients with dementia, heart failure, late-in-life weight loss, and those who had high blood pressure.
But long-term declines also occurred in healthy people without any of these diseases.
It was clear that the declines were not due simply to the early deaths of people with high blood pressure.
The finding is important for doctors to understand as much as possible around aging and blood pressure, to help personalize treatment.
The researchers suggest doctors should carefully consider what dropping blood pressure really means for older patients.
The finding does not mean that high blood pressure should not be treated in late life or that they should stop their blood pressure drugs.
The team suggests that more research is needed to find why blood pressure declines in the elderly in this way.
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