Aggressive systolic blood pressure control in older subjects: benefits and risks

Postgrad Med. 2018 Mar;130(2):159-165. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2018.1433434. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


Systolic hypertension, especially isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) is very common in older subjects aged ≥ 65 years and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), strokes, heart failure (HF) and chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is also, directly and linearly related with these complications irrespective of sex, or ethnicity, but it is worse with the advancement of age. Effective control of systolic blood pressure (SBP), is associated with significant reduction in the incidence of these complications. Currently, there is a debate about the optimal SBP control in view of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) showing beneficial cardiovascular (CV) effects of intensive SBP of < 120 mmHg in older patients. Also, the recently released blood pressure (BP) guidelines by the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the American Society of Hypertension (ACC/AHA/ASH) recommend a SBP reduction of < 130 mmHg. These SBP treatment recommendations are in contrast with the current (JNC VIII) committee of BP treatment guidelines, which recommend a SBP reduction < 150 mmHg for the same age of patients. All these different recommendations have created a debate regarding the optimal treatment targets for the systolic hypertension of the elderly patients. To gain more information a focused Medline search was conducted from 2010 to 2017 using the terms, systolic blood pressure, aggressive control, older subjects, treatment guidelines, and 37 pertinent papers were retrieved. The findings from these studies suggest a SBP reduction of < 140 mm Hg for persons aged ≥ 60 years, with an attempt for SBP reduction to ≤130 mm Hg in healthier subjects and hose with CVD, DM, and CKD. Care should be taken not to further reduce the SBP in older subjects if their DBP is ≤60 mmHg for the fear of J-curve effect.

Keywords: Systolic blood pressure; complications; older age; treatment targets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Blood Pressure Determination
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors


  • Antihypertensive Agents