Are you caring for an older person with hypertension, also known as high blood pressure? Or does your parent take medication to lower blood pressure?
If so, then you should definitely learn more about the new guidelines for the treatment of high blood pressure, which were released by a well-respected expert committee on December 18, 2013.
This week, I wrote an article for you, explaining the key points of the new guidelines, and listing what caregivers can do to make sure their older loved ones aren’t being over-treated for high blood pressure (BP).
In my experience, many frail older adults are taking more BP medication than they need. This can cause falls or dizziness due to orthostatic hypotension, and one of the most common medication changes I implement as a geriatrician is the cutting back of blood pressure medications. (For more on orthostatic hypotension, see this article at HealthinAging.org, and also this FAQ I wrote about why elderly people get dizzy when standing up.)
If you want to read my full article on this topic, it was published yesterday on AgingCare.com, and you can find it by clicking this link:
AgingCare.com only publishes articles that won’t be published elsewhere on the web, so I can’t post the whole thing here. But here are the highlights related to the new BP guidelines:
- A higher target BP for adults aged 60 or older. The recommended goal BP is now less than 150/90, instead of less than 140/90 (which was the target recommended in prior guidelines, published in 2003).
- A higher target BP for people with diabetes and/or kidney disease. The recommended goal BP is now less than 140/90, instead of less than 130/80.
What does this mean for you, if you’re caring for aging parents or other older persons? It means you should check on how their BP has been doing. If it’s been much lower than the numbers above, you should consider discussing the BP medications with your parent’s doctor. This is especially important if you’ve had any concerns about falls or balance.
For specific recommendations on how to make sure your older loved one isn’t getting too much blood pressure medication, read my full article at AgingCare.com. I also offer tips on checking BP in this post: Why I Love Home Blood Pressure Monitors.[Update March 2014: A recently published study found that older adults on BP medications have more serious falls. You can read my blog post about it here.]
Questions about medications in aging adults?
Would you like to learn more about how geriatricians manage medications in older adults? Or, do you have more questions about blood pressure medications in the elderly?
This month, I’ll be doing a free Q & A call on how geriatricians manage medications in aging adults. The call is scheduled for Tuesday, January 28th, at 12:30pm PST/3:30pm EST. Not sure you can join the call? Sign up anyway, and you’ll be able to listen to a recording of the call afterwards.