Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Font Size

Elderly Often Skip Blood Pressure Pills

High Blood Pressure Ignored in Favor of Treating Illnesses With Noticeable Symptoms

WebMD Health News

June 27, 2005 -- Seniors may be more likely to take medications for diseases that produce noticeable symptoms rather than treat high blood pressure --- the "silent killer."

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it has no symptoms. The condition dramatically raises the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure.

"We found [in a study] that elderly high blood pressure patients with other illnesses were generally half as likely to take their medication for high blood pressure," says researcher Philip Wang, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, medicine, and health care policy at Harvard Medical School, in a news release.

"This is a little surprising when you consider the magnitude and consistency of the effectiveness of high blood pressure medication," Wang says.

The elderly frequently suffer from more than one chronic medical condition. "Awareness needs to be raised to the fact that high blood pressure is as important to treat as more symptomatic conditions," says Wang.

Blood Pressure Treatment Often Neglected

In the study, researchers analyzed information provided by more than 50,000 men and women over age 65 with high blood pressure who were enrolled in Pennsylvania's state prescription benefits program.

Researchers found that elderly people with other conditions not related to heart disease were much less likely to take their prescribed blood pressure pills.

For example, the likelihood of the elderly taking their high blood pressure medication was:

Researchers say the results are alarming because only 60% of people with high blood pressure are treated, and of those only about one-third have their blood pressure levels adequately controlled.

The results are problematic in light of the very clear evidence of the benefit of high blood pressure therapy in preventing and reducing damage to multiple organs, they write.

Today on WebMD

blood pressure
Symptoms, causes, and more.
Learn the causes.
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
Mature man floating in pool, goggles on head
Exercises that help.
heart healthy living
Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
Compressed heart
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
Heart Foods Slideshow
Low Blood Pressure