Context: Data are sparse regarding current rates of hypertension treatment and control, and risks associated with hypertension, among persons older than 80 years.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of blood pressure stages, hypertension treatment and control, and cardiovascular risk among older patients with hypertension.
Design, setting, and participants: A community-based cohort study in which data were collected during all Framingham Heart Study examinations attended in the 1990s. Participants were pooled according to age: younger than 60 years, 60 to 79 years, or 80 years or older. There were 5296 participants who contributed 14 458 person-examinations of observation, including 7135 hypertensive person-examinations (4919 treated).
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of hypertension, its treatment, and its control were compared across age groups. Risks for incident cardiovascular disease during follow-up of up to 6 years were estimated as multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using Cox proportional hazards regression.
Results: Prevalence of hypertension and drug treatment increased with advancing age, whereas control rates were markedly lower in older women (systolic <140 and diastolic <90 mm Hg). For ages younger than 60 years, 60 to 79, and 80 years and older, respectively, control rates were 38%, 36%, and 38% in men (P = .30) and 38%, 28%, and 23% in women (P<.001). Relative risks for cardiovascular disease associated with increasing blood pressure stage did not decline with advancing age, and absolute risks increased markedly. Among participants 80 years of age or older, major cardiovascular events occurred in 9.5% of the normal blood pressure (referent) group, 19.8% of the prehypertension group (HR, 1.9; 95% CI, 0.9-3.9), 20.3% of the stage 1 hypertension group (HR, 1.8; 95% CI, 0.8-3.7), and 24.7% of the stage 2 or treated hypertension group (HR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.2-4.6).
Conclusions: Relative to current national guidelines, rates of blood pressure control in the community are low, especially among older women with hypertension. Short-term risks for cardiovascular disease are substantial, indicating the need for greater efforts at safe, effective risk reduction among the oldest patients with hypertension.