Drugs & Aging

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 355–371 | Cite as

ACE Inhibitors

Differential Use in Elderly Patients with Hypertension
  • Zafar H. Israili
  • W. Dallas Hall
Review Article Drug Therapy


High blood pressure (BP) in the elderly must not be ignored as a normal consequence of aging. The criteria for the diagnosis of hypertension and the necessity to treat it are the same in elderly and younger patients. The aim of treatment of elderly hypertensive patients is to decrease BP safely and to reduce risk factors associated with cerebrovascular, cardiovascular and renal morbidity and mortality.

The treatment of elderly hypertensive patients should be adjusted according to the needs of the individual, based upon age, race, severity of hypertension, co-existing medical problems, other cardiovascular risk factors, target-organ damage, risk-benefit considerations and costs. In addition to the elevated BP, other cardiovascular risk factors include smoking, glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinaemia, dyslipidaemia, hypercreatininaemia, peripheral vascular disease, left ventricular hypertrophy, and microalbuminuria (or albuminuria). Thus, the choice of initial antihypertensive therapy in elderly hypertensive patients should be based not only on the expected response, but also on the effects of therapy on lipid, potassium, glucose and uric acid levels, and left ventricular anatomy and function. Co-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes mellitus, heart failure, renal failure, gout, coronary artery disease, hyperlipidaemia and peripheral vascular disease) are major determinants for the selection of antihypertensive medications.

With previous therapies (diuretics, β-blockers, etc.), good BP control in the elderly was associated with clear and statistically significant reductions in stroke-related morbidity and mortality, but the overall effects on cardiovascular and renal complications of hypertension was either more variable or less obvious. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are not only efficacious antihypertensive agents in the elderly, but also appear promising in counteracting some of the cardiovascular and renal consequences of hypertension. They are well tolerated and have a relatively low incidence of adverse effects. ACE inhibitors possess ancillary characteristics that are potentially beneficial for many elderly patients, including reduction of left ventricular mass, lack of metabolic and lipid disturbances, no adverse CNS effects, no risk of induction of heart failure, and a low risk of orthostatic hypotension. Since ACE inhibitors may improve perfusion to the heart, kidney and brain, they are well worth considering for the treatment of elderly patients with hypertensive target organ damage, especially in patients with heart failure, and diabetic patients with early nephropathy.


Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Captopril Enalapril Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitor Atrial Natriuretic Peptide 
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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zafar H. Israili
    • 1
  • W. Dallas Hall
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Division of HypertensionEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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