Health & Fitness

How low should you go -- if you’re 75 or older?


King Features Syndicate

When Chubby Checker crooned “Limbo Rock” in 1966, he asked agile folks “How low can you go? ... unda the limbo stick.” For limbo queen Shemika Charles, the answer in 2010 was a record-setting 8 1/2 inches. Lower also can be a winning strategy when it comes to blood pressure for folks 75 and up, according to a new study in JAMA online.

It revealed that lowering systolic (the top number) BP to less than 120 (compared with the standard recommendation of 140 or less) reduces the relative risk of major cardiovascular events, like stroke and heart attack, by 25 percent. There was also a 27 percent lower relative risk of death from any cause. The researchers, using data from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), found that among the 2,510 participants, over three years just 73 folks died who aimed for a lower BP, while 107 folks died who were at the higher level.

Should you lower your BP to 120 or less if you’re 75 or older? This study indicates that if you don’t have diabetes (going too low may increase medication side effects) lowering your BP may be a life-saver. So ask your doc about lowering your BP to 120 or less. And do everything you can through lifestyle changes to control BP as well. Increase physical activity to 30 minutes five days a week; eat 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day; avoid tobacco, excessive alcohol and the Five Food Felons; maintain a healthy weight; and reduce stress with mindful meditation.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit