Study shows the need to treat CV risk across a lifetime
Targeting cardiovascular disease risk factors may be important across a person’s lifetime, as a new study from the US National Institutes of Health shows that efforts to prevent risk factors should extend to those over 65 years of age.
The ‘Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke’ (REGARDS) study looked at stroke incidence in approximately 30,000 individuals. The study examined individuals over the course of 10 years to determine how many developed risk factors associated with stroke and heart disease including hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol level and atrial fibrillation.
One of the study authors Dr Claudia Moy said, “As life expectancy continues to increase, we need to improve risk factor prevention and management for stroke and heart disease across the lifespan, including for those adults over the age of 65,” She added, “The latest findings from the REGARDS study reveal that no age group is immune to risk factors related to cardiovascular disease and that prevention efforts should target all adults.”
The study team discovered that development of cardiovascular disease risk factors remains high among adults older than 65. The study also confirmed large racial disparities in the incidence of high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation.
Overall, the incidence of risk factors remains high in older adults. Blacks have a higher incidence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidaemia after age 45, underscoring the ongoing importance of prevention of all three conditions in mid- to later life. Nearly half of the participants whose blood pressure was normal at the beginning of the study went on to develop high blood pressure during the nearly 10 years of follow-up. As study participants got older, their risk of developing diabetes mellitus decreased, although a large racial disparity was seen across all age groups. The incidence of high cholesterol increased through age 74, then decreased slightly among participants older than 75.
Primary healthcare professionals should maintain their focus on managing cardiovascular risk factors in older patients over 65 years of age.
Howard G, Safford MM, Moy CS, et al. Racial differences in the incidence of cardiovascular risk factors in older black and white adults. Journal of the American Geriatric Society. September 26, 2016. DOI:10.1111/jgs.14472 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27666895