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Blood pressure medications can be safely reduced for some older people, study finds

Blood pressure medications can be safely reduced for some older people, study finds

Some older people can safely reduce the number of medications they take to lower high blood pressure, a study has found.

The study found GPs can reduce the antihypertensive medications some aged 80 and over take with limited impact on their blood pressure control or quality of life.

The study was conducted by the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and University of Southampton with funding and support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

It found over 12 weeks blood pressure was well controlled (150 mm Hg or less) in 86.4 percent of patients taking reduced medication and 87.7 percent in those not taking reduced medication.

Two-thirds of those who took reduced medication were taking fewer drugs at the end of the study.

More than 550 people took part in the trial in the Midlands and south England, including at 35 practices in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire.

Before taking part, those in the study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, had to have well-controlled blood pressure and be taking two or more antihypertensives.

It is hoped the study can support clinicians to reduce the number of medications some take. Managing multiple medications is complex, particularly with fewer seeing their doctor for medication reviews during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Study co-investigator Richard McManus, Professor of Primary Care Research at Oxford University, said: “For clinicians concerned that older patients may be taking too many medications, we’ve shown that in the short term it’s possible to safely reduce the number of antihypertensive medications.

“However, the impacts of medication reduction for longer than 12 weeks weren’t tested in this study, so these results should be treated cautiously, and colleagues should carefully consider individual patient’s circumstances when deciding whether or not to deprescribe blood pressure medication.”

See an infographic on the results.