The benefits of intensive blood pressure control outweigh the risks for adults over age 80. That’s according to a secondary analysis of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) study.

The analysis compared outcomes among elders who had an intensive systolic blood pressure target lower than 120 mmHg and those with a standard target of less than 140 mmHg.

Intensive control was found to reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke, death, and mild cognitive impairment in this age group. There was no increased falls risk, though participants did face a heightened risk of adverse changes to kidney function, wrote Nicholas M. Pajewski Ph.D., from Wake Forest School of Medicine, North Carolina.

Most of the study participants had three or more chronic health conditions. More than half took at least five medications and about 27% had a history of heart disease.

Notably, benefits related to heart disease and death risk were greater in people with better cognitive performance at the beginning of the trial. However, there was not strong evidence of intensive blood pressure control significantly affecting mortality or heart disease risk for those with poorer cognitive function.

The study was published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.