Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly: Addressing an Unmet Need

  • Daniel A. Duprez
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Daniel A. Duprez, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, VCRC - Room 270, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware St. SE, MMC 508, Minneapolis, MN 55455.
    Cardiovascular Division, Medical School, University of Minnesota, Minn.
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      Systolic hypertension is a major public health issue in the elderly and is often under-recognized and under-treated. The concept that systolic blood pressure increases with age should be considered a pathophysiologic concept. Aging of the cardiovascular system is accompanied by endothelial dysfunction, activation of the renin-angiotensin system and, consequently, vascular remodeling. This process leads to an increase in large artery stiffness and an increase in arterial wave reflections to the heart. These processes in daily clinical practice translate to an increase in systolic blood pressure, which is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Evidence-based medicine recommendations to treat systolic hypertension in the elderly are based on landmark and recent clinical trials, which clearly demonstrated that treatment of isolated systolic hypertension is associated with significant decreases in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. However, treatment of systolic hypertension in older adults remains disappointing because therapeutic goals often are not reached. Therefore, emphasis should be placed on the treatment of systolic hypertension in the elderly, and there is need for more effective, individualized antihypertensive therapy.


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