A large international trial on the benefits of antihypertensive drugs for seniors aged 80 years and over recently ended prematurely because preliminary results clearly indicated the benefits of these treatments. In fact, British researchers noted a substantial reduction in the number of strokes and deaths due to cardiovascular disease in the subjects who had received treatments, compared to those who had received placebos.
Beginning in 2001, this trial included close to 4,000 individuals who were at least 80 years of age and suffering from high blood pressure. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Subjects in the first group were given a low dose diuretic called indapamide, in combination with an ACE (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme) inhibitor called perindopril. Subjects in the second group were given placebos, meaning tablets visually identical to the study drugs but not containing active ingredients.
Given the obvious benefits of the active treatments, it had become unethical for researchers to continue the trial and knowingly deprive patients taking the placebos from receiving adequate treatment. Hence, the study ended this past July and researchers offered the active treatments to everyone. The complete data analysis for this study will take many more months to accomplish, but researchers can already state with great assurance that treating high blood pressure in very elderly patients is beneficial and highly recommended.
Although much smaller studies had already broached this question, none had yet to give a clear answer. Therefore, a good number of experts continued to think that treating very elderly patients suffering from high blood pressure was simply futile. Seniors are at greater risk of suffering from a stroke than younger individuals. A stroke is a traumatic event that can lead to death or to consequences serious enough to destroy a patient’s quality of life.
This study is yet another proof of the importance of adequate healthcare for the elderly population. It is primordial for senior citizens to have access to the same quality of care as everyone else, particularly when it comes to treating high blood pressure. We all deserve good health and a good quality of life!