Context The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection,
Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure emphasizes the importance
of systolic hypertension (SH), defined as systolic blood pressure (SBP) of
at least 140 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure of less than 90 mm Hg, in
older persons (≥60 years).
Objective To systematically review the literature on clinical management of SH
in older persons.
Data Sources We performed a MEDLINE search of English-language literature from 1966-2004
to identify reports about SH in older persons, with particular emphasis on
data from randomized clinical trials.
Study Selection and Data Extraction We selected 1064 studies by using the search terms hypertension combined with the terms systole (or systolic) and aged.
Data Synthesis There is strong evidence from clinical trials to support the treatment
of SH in older persons with SBP of at least 160 mm Hg. Large-scale trials
to assess the value of antihypertensive therapy for older patients with SBP
of 140 to 159 mm Hg have not been performed, and recommendations to treat
these patients are based on observational studies that show a graded relationship
of cardiovascular risk with increasing SBP. The studies most strongly support
the use of thiazide diuretics and long-acting calcium channel blockers as
first-line therapy to treat SH.
Conclusions Treatment of SH in older patients with SBP of at least 160 mm Hg is
supported by strong evidence. The evidence available to support treatment
of patients to the level of 140 mm Hg or those with baseline SBP of 140 to
159 mm Hg is less strong; thus, these treatment decisions should be more sensitive
to patient preferences and tolerance of therapy.