The Netherlands journal of medicine vol:43 Suppl 1 pages:S66-77
A meta-analysis is presented of 8 therapeutic trials in elderly hypertensive patients. In an intention-to-treat analysis, cardiovascular mortality was decreased on average by 22% (95% confidence interval ranging from -32% to -10%). This decrease was explained by both a reduction in coronary mortality by 26% (-40% to -9%) and in cerebrovascular mortality by 33% (-50% to -9%). The effectiveness of therapy in terms of reducing cardiovascular mortality is not established with confidence in those trials where the diastolic blood pressure at randomization is below 95 mmHg or in the patients above 75 years of age. A goal blood pressure is not definitively established, but a reduction of the systolic blood pressure to about 150 mmHg may be optimal. Extrapolation of the trial results to the elderly population with systolo-diastolic hypertension at large seems acceptable for the western population, but may be premature for the Asian and African elderly. Beta-blockers and especially diuretics are recommended as first-line drugs in elderly patients with symptomless, uncomplicated hypertension, since the effectiveness of other drugs in reducing morbidity and mortality is not yet established. Recommendation for treatment of symptomless patients with isolated systolic hypertension may be premature. The ongoing Syst-Eur and Syst-Chin trials may provide further information.