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Blood pressure falls in final years, showing need for personalised care

Blood pressure starts to gradually falls 14 years before death, showing the importance of personalising patient care, a study shows


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Blood pressure gradually begins to decline 14 years before death, highlighting the importance of personalising patient care, a study shows.

Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School and the University of Connecticut Health Center in the US examined the medical records of 46,634 British citizens who died aged 60 or more between 2010 and 2014.

They found blood pressure declines were steepest in patients with dementia, heart failure, weight loss late in life, and those who had high blood pressure for much of their lives.

Long-term decline also occurred in patients who remained healthy until death.

Previous studies have indicated that blood pressure may drop in older patients, and treatment for hypertension has been suggested as explaining why blood pressure was found to be lower later in life.

40

All adults aged over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.

Source: NHS Choices

The study found blood pressure declines were also present in those without hypertension diagnoses or anti-hypertension medication prescriptions.

Researchers said the evidence showed that the declines were not due simply to the early deaths of people with high blood pressure.

They stressed that the findings do not mean hypertension should not be treated in late life or that patients should stop taking blood pressure medications.

Lead author David Melzer said: ‘It is important for physicians to understand as much as possible around ageing and blood pressure, to help personalise treatment.’


Melzer D et al (2017) Blood Pressure Trajectories in the 20 Years Before Death. JAMA Internal Medicine. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.7023

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