Dear Dr. Roach: My husband is 75. I am 68. Our family doctor says that our blood pressure average is fine at 140/80 with no medicine. We thought it should be 120/70, but he says the limit is higher for seniors in order to decrease falls. This is pretty confusing. Do you think its OK? S.M.
Answer: The best goal for blood pressure has been the subject of controversy. For the overall population, a level of 120/80, slightly less than the average blood pressure in the U.S. and Canada, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and death than a blood pressure of 140/80. But the difference is pretty small. A blood pressure of 160/90 has a significantly higher risk, and at blood pressures above 160 systolic (thats the first or top number), the risk for stroke and heart disease rises steeply.
A recent trial (the SPRINT trial) showed that among older people with high blood pressure who had increased risk for heart attack, a systolic blood pressure goal of 120 was better at reducing risk than a blood pressure goal of 140. Both groups had a diastolic (the second or bottom number) goal of less than 90. However, the goal among people at lower risk is not as clear.
Stay connected to the stories and events that make your community a special place to call home.
Subscriptions start at $14.90/month.View subscription options
- Unmatched coverage of Allen County’s local news and sports, a tradition dating back to 1867
- Compelling portraits of our residents, experienced reporting and thoughtful analysis
- Unlimited online access to iolaregister.com and our archives