Health Science Journal

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Epidemiology of hypertension in the elderly

Babatsikou Fotoula

Background: Hypertension is significantly associated with the increased morbidity and mortality rates from cerebrovascular disease, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and renal insufficiency. Arterial hypertension is highly prevalent in the elderly, this article reviews on the epidemiological features of hypertension in the elderly. Method and Material: We conducted a search of the literature in several databases (Medline, Scopus, EMBASE and CINAHL) to identify articles related to hypertension epidemiology. We also obtained relevant statistical information from the World Health Organization’s internet database. The search was performed using the following key terms: hypertension, epidemiology, elderly, prevalence, incidence, risk factors, mortality, morbidity, treatment and prevention. Results: Hypertension is highly prevalent in the elderly. Several epidemiological surveys conducted in the USA and Europe conclude that hypertension prevalence in the elderly ranges between 53% and 72%. Same prevalence patterns have been observed in Greece for this specific age group. High blood pressure values in the presence of several risk factors (obesity, diabetes mellitus, increased salt intake, hyperlipidemia, smoking, lack of physical activity, psychological factors, advanced age, sex) lead to a further increase of cardiovascular disease risk. Regular physical activity, the implementation of a healthy diet and medication are some of the preventive measures that can be adopted for the reduction of high blood pressure levels. Conclusions: The most efficient treatment method of coronary heart disease is the administration of antihypertensive medications in the elderly since other interventions (physical activity, reduce of cigarette smoking, healthy diet) are not easily acceptable by the population.