Blood Pressure in Older Adults: the Importance of Frailty

Curr Hypertens Rep. 2015 Jul;17(7):55. doi: 10.1007/s11906-015-0564-y.


The importance of high blood pressure (BP) and the effect of BP lowering in older adults remain controversial due to the mixed evidence in this population. Frailty status may resolve the apparently conflicting findings and identify subpopulations who share common risk. Emerging evidence demonstrates that low BP is associated with poor outcomes in older frail adults or those with poor functional status. In contrast, in non-frail older adults, low BP appears beneficial. Frail older adults may be at increased risk of hypotension, serious fall injuries, and polypharmacy. Additionally, peripheral BP may not be the best prognostic measure in this population. The majority of clinical practice guidelines give little recommendation for frail older adults, which is likely due to their systematic underrepresentation in randomized controlled trials. Future studies need to consider modifications to safely include frail older adults, and guidelines should consider inclusion of evidence beyond randomized controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome