Geriatric Cardiology and Blood Pressure

  • Edmund H. DuthieJr.
  • Michael H. KeelanJr.
Part of the Contemporary Geriatric Medicine book series (COGM, volume 3)


Degenerative disease of the cardiovascular system remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly patient. Coronary artery disease accounts for approximately 40% of all deaths beyond age 55 years.1 An impressive reduction in fatalities due to ischemic heart disease has been seen in the United States during the past 15 years. This favorable statistic applies to both sexes, whites and nonwhites, and patients over 65 years as well. For white males aged 65 to 74 years, the death rate from ischemic heart disease has fallen from 2119 per 100,000 in 1968 to 1642 per 100,000 in 1977.1 A comparable reduction in the incidence of coronary attacks was not seen initially,2 but more recent data suggest that they too are decreasing in number.3 This reduction in mortality is real and there are multifactorial explanations for it. A change in smoking habits, awareness of diet, better physical fitness, newer pharmacologic agents, and interventions such as coronary bypass and angioplasty all play a responsible role. Other therapeutic advances, particularly in the prevention and treatment of rheumatic fever and the surgical treatment of cardiac disease, have increased the lifespan of cardiac patients. Degenerative disease superimposed on preexisting valvular heart disease has resulted in an increasing population of elderly patients with “hybrid” heart disease. Appropriate therapy depends on early recognition of the underlying disease process and an understanding of its pathophysiology. This task is made more difficult because the clinical history is often atypical or the physical signs are masked by the effects of aging on the cardiovascular system.


Aortic Stenosis Beta Blocker Renal Artery Stenosis Systolic Hypertension Total Peripheral Resistance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edmund H. DuthieJr.
    • 1
  • Michael H. KeelanJr.
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Section of Geriatrics and Gerontology, Department of MedicineMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Section of Cardiology, Department of MedicineMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  3. 3.Milwaukee County Medical ComplexMilwaukeeUSA

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