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Blood pressure pills ‘help elderly live longer’

BLOOD pressure pills give the elderly a ‘survival boost’ — helping them live longer, no matter how frail they are, according to a new study.

Researchers found over-65s who take the meds are almost 45 per cent less likely to die if in good health — and 30 per cent less likely even if poorly.

Study chief Professor Giuseppe Mancia said: ‘We knew that high blood pressure medication was protective in general among older people, however we focused on whether it’s also protective in frail patients with many other medical conditions.

‘Our findings definitely suggest that even in very frail people, anti-hypertensive [high blood pressure] treatment reduces the risk of death.’

The condition, which costs the NHS some £2.1billion a year, affects more than one in four adults in the UK.

But between 50 and 80 per cent of people with high blood pressure don’t take all their pills, according to Blood Pressure UK.

Multiple meds and complicated dosing schedules mean people often forget or take the wrong amount.

High blood pressure raises the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.

The scientists, from the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy, reviewed data on 1.3million elderly people in the country’s Lombardy region who had three or more blood pressure prescriptions between 2011 and 2012.

They then used a health score to determine the outcome among older people with medical conditions. It took into account more than 30 health factors often associated with death.

Over the next seven years, the researchers compared around 250,000 people who had died and divided them into four groups based on their health status — good, medium, poor and very poor.

While the probability of death over the seven years was at least 15 per cent, elderly people with a ‘high adherence’ to blood pressure meds who started in good health were over 40 per cent less likely to die.

Even those who started in poor or very poor health were over 30 per cent less likely to die than those with a ‘low adherence’ to treatment.

Prof Mancia urged: ‘Do your best to encourage and support patients to take their medications, because adherence is crucial to getting the benefits.’