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Drugs Aging. 2009;26(9):751-67. doi: 10.2165/11316790-000000000-00000.

Role of angiotensin II type 1 receptor antagonists in the treatment of hypertension in patients aged >or=65 years.

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  • 1Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, The Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15224, USA. gradmanmd@aol.com


Systolic blood pressure (SBP) increases with age, and hypertension affects approximately two-thirds of adults in the US aged >60 years. Blood pressure (BP) increases as a consequence of age-related structural changes in large arteries, which lead to loss of elasticity and reduced vascular compliance. Increased pulse wave velocity augments SBP, resulting in a high prevalence of isolated systolic hypertension. Because age itself elevates cardiovascular risk, effective treatment of hypertension in an older (aged >or=65 years) patient population prevents many more events per 1000 patients treated than treatment of younger hypertensive patients. Recommendations for treating hypertension are similar in older patients compared with the general population. The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Detection, Prevention, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends target BP goals of <140/90 mmHg for patients with uncomplicated hypertension, and <130/80 mmHg for those with diabetes mellitus or renal disease. Recent guidelines and position papers have extended these aggressive treatment goals to include patients with coronary artery disease, other types of vascular disease and heart failure. Randomized clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of calcium channel antagonists (calcium channel blockers [CCBs]), low-dose diuretics, ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II type 1 receptor antagonists (angiotensin receptor blockers [ARBs]) in reducing the risk of stroke and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes in older patients; beta-adrenoceptor antagonists are less effective in terms of endpoint reduction. The majority of older patients require two or more drugs to achieve BP goals. Despite active treatment, half of these patients do not achieve target BP, in part because of the reluctance of physicians to intensify treatment, a phenomenon referred to as 'clinical inertia'. ARBs are effective antihypertensive agents in older patients and have been shown to reduce cardiovascular endpoints in patients with hypertension, diabetic nephropathy, cerebrovascular disease and heart failure. ARBs produce additive BP reduction when combined with diuretics or CCBs. They also have the advantage of placebo-like tolerability, and this contributes favourably to patient compliance with long-term treatment, which is a prerequisite for reducing morbidity and mortality.

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