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Treatment of Hypertension in Older Adults

Treatment of Hypertension in Older Adults

Teaser: 


Wilbert S. Aronow, MD, FACC, FAHA, AGSF, Department of Medicine, Cardiology Division, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, USA.

Numerous double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies have documented that antihypertensive drug therapy reduces cardiovascular events in older adults. In the Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial, individuals 80 years of age and older treated with antihypertensive drug therapy had, at 1.8-year follow-up, a 30% reduction in fatal or nonfatal stroke, a 39% reduction in fatal stroke, a 21% reduction in all-cause mortality (p=0.02), a 23% reduction in death from cardiovascular causes, and a 64% reduction in heart failure. The goal of treatment of hypertension in older adults is to reduce the blood pressure to <140/90 mmHg and to <130/80 mmHg in older persons with diabetes or chronic renal insufficiency. Older adults with diastolic hypertension should have their diastolic blood pressure reduced to 80-85 mmHg. Diuretics should be used as initial therapy in persons with no associated medical conditions. The selection of antihypertensive drug therapy in persons with associated medical conditions depends on their medical conditions. If the blood pressure is >20/10 mmHg above the goal blood pressure, drug therapy should be initiated with two antihypertensive drugs, one of which should be a thiazide-type diuretic. Other coronary risk factors must be treated.
Key words: hypertension, older adults, antihypertensive drug therapy, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers.

Abdominal Pain among Older Adults

Abdominal Pain among Older Adults

Teaser: 

M. Bachir Tazkarji, MD, CCFP, CAQ Geriatric Medicine, Lecturer, Family Medicine Department, University of Toronto; Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Toronto, ON.

As the population is aging, physicians from all specialties are expected to see more older adults at their outpatient practices and in the acute settings. Abdominal pain remains one of the most common and potentially serious complaints that emergency physicians encounter. Vascular pathology should be considered early in the diagnostic course of all older adults who have abdominal pain because the time for intervention is critical.
Key words: abdominal pain, older adults, management of acute abdominal pain.

Smog Alert: Air Pollution and Heart Disease in Older Adults

Smog Alert: Air Pollution and Heart Disease in Older Adults

Teaser: 


Bailus Walker Jr., PhD, MPH, Department of Community and Family Medicine, College of Medicine, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA.
Charles Mouton, MD, MS, Department of Community and Family Medicine, College of Medicine, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA.

In the late 1990s, it became increasingly clear that air pollution, even at the lower ambient concentrations prevalent in many urban areas, is associated with increased mortality and other serious health effects. More recently, considerable research has focused on particulate air pollution as studies have linked a growing number of health effects to fine particles. Hundreds of studies now indicate that breathing fine particles discharged by vehicles, factories, and power plants can trigger a cardiac event and exacerbate respiratory disease in vulnerable populations. Older adults are one subgroup considered more susceptible to the effects of airborne particles. This sensitivity can be attributed to a number of factors including loss of pulmonary functional reserve and compensation due to age or disease. Although a number of mechanisms have been proposed to explain the adverse impact of particles on cardiovascular health, many questions remain. Their answers will require further transdisciplinary research.
Key words: heart disease, air pollution, smog, particulates, older adults.

A Study of Falls in Long-Term Care and the Role of Physicians in Multidisciplinary Evidence-Based Prevention

A Study of Falls in Long-Term Care and the Role of Physicians in Multidisciplinary Evidence-Based Prevention

Teaser: 


Victoria J. Scott, PhD, RN, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Population and Public Health; Senior Advisor, Falls & Injury Prevention, BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit and Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport, Victoria, BC.
S. Johnson, PhD, Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, University of Regina, SK.
J.F. Kozak, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia; Director of Research Centre for Healthy Aging, Providence Health, Vancouver, BC.
Elaine M. Gallagher, PhD, RN, Professor, School of Nursing; Director, Centre on Aging,
University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.

Approximately one in two older adults living in long-term care (LTC) settings sustains a fall every year, resulting in significant human suffering and treatment costs. The complex set of factors that contribute to fall risk among this population demands a multidisciplinary approach to this problem, with physicians playing a pivotal role in risk assessment, prevention, and management. We describe a study where facility personnel from five LTC sites were trained in the use of a standardized surveillance tool to track falls, fall injuries, and contributing factors over 16-months. Using a pre-/post-test design, interventions included a multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach to fall risk assessment and monitoring, environmental modifications, exercise, and education strategies. Interventions by a multidisciplinary team, including physicians, were successful in reducing fall-related injuries and relatively successful in reducing the rate of falls among LTC residents. Further study is needed over a longer period of time, using a randomized control trial, to determine the effectiveness of specific interventions and to generalize findings to the larger population of LTC residents.
Key words: fall prevention, long-term care, multidisciplinary approach, older adults.

Vaccines for Older Adults

Vaccines for Older Adults

Teaser: 


Mazen S. Bader, MD, FRCPC, MPH, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, NL.
Daniel Hinthorn, MD, FACP, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA.

Preventive health interventions are key to maintaining the health and good function of older adults. Despite being safe and a highly effective method of preventing certain infectious diseases, vaccination rates among older adults continue to lag behind national goals. Vaccines for older adults can be divided into three categories: those that are required for all older adults, those that may be required for special circumstances, and those that are required for travel. Physicians should be familiar with the indications, contraindications, and adverse effects of commonly used vaccines among older adults. This article will focus only on the vaccines required for all older adults.
Key words: vaccines, older adults, influenza, pneumococcal vaccine, herpes zoster, tetanus.

Insulin Therapy for Older Adults with Diabetes

Insulin Therapy for Older Adults with Diabetes

Teaser: 

Alissa R. Segal, PharmD, CDE, Associate Professor, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Clinical pharmacist, Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Medha N. Munshi, MD, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School; Director of Joslin
Geriatric Diabetes Program, Joslin Diabetes Center; Division of Gerontology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

The aging of the population and increasing prevalence of diabetes are worldwide phenomena that require a better focus on challenges of diabetes management in older adults. We now understand the benefits of tight glycemic control and have an armament of agents to achieve such a feat. However, in an aging population, balance must be sought between the goals of glycemic control and those of overall health status, including quality of life. Insulin therapy, in particular, requires significant self-care abilities. Insulin therapy can be used safely and effectively if diabetes management plans are formulated with consideration of the clinical, functional, and psychosocial contexts of an older adult.
Key words: diabetes, older adults, insulin therapy, geriatrics, glycemic control.

Approach to Dyspnea among Older Adults

Approach to Dyspnea among Older Adults

Teaser: 


Siamak Moayedi, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Mercedes Torres, MD, Instructor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Dyspnea is among the most frequent complaints among older adults. The prevalence of comorbid medical conditions combined with physiological changes of aging present significant challenges to the diagnosis. The initial approach to the older adult with dyspnea mandates consideration of a broad range of diagnoses. Failure to consider life-threatening medical conditions presenting with dyspnea, such as pulmonary embolism, acute coronary syndromes, congestive heart failure, asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumothorax, and pneumonia, can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. This review focuses on the rapid assessment and approach to the older adult with acute dyspnea.
Key words: dyspnea, shortness of breath, approach, geriatric, older adults.

Malignant Melanoma among Older Adults

Malignant Melanoma among Older Adults

Teaser: 

Wey Leong, MSc, MD, Department of Surgical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network, University of Toronto, ON.
Alexandra M. Easson, MSc, MD, Department of Surgical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto, ON.
Michael Reedijk, PhD, MD, Department of Surgical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network, University of Toronto, ON.

Melanoma must be considered in the differential diagnosis of any skin lesion in older adults. With the incidence of melanoma increasing in general and even more so among older people, more older adults are being diagnosed with melanoma than in the past. Among older adults, melanomas display more aggressive histological features with worse prognosis and treatment outcomes than among younger individuals. Furthermore, older individuals have fewer surgical and medical treatment options because of age-associated comorbidities. This article reviews the epidemiology and management of melanoma with emphasis on the older adult population.
Key words: older adults, melanoma, aged, cancer, skin neoplasm.

Older Adults and Burns

Older Adults and Burns

Teaser: 

Kristen Davidge, MD, Plastic Surgery Resident; Candidate, Master of Surgical Science, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, ON.
Joel Fish, MD, MSc, FRCS(C), Burn Surgeon, Ross Tilley Burn Unit, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Chief Medical Officer, St. Johns Rehab Hospital; Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto; Director of Research, Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.

Burn injury among older adults will result in significant morbidity and mortality despite the many advances in burn treatment. Many adult burn units in North America admit and treat a significant number of older adults so understanding the issues and problems specific to this age group is important. Older adults experience specific problems with wound care, and if the injury is large, they will require critical care interventions during the course of treatment. Despite the advances in wound care and critical care that have occurred, the mortality rates of older adults with burn injuries remain quite high. This article reviews the literature on specific issues for older adults that need to be considered when treating older adults with burn injury.
Key words: burn injury, burn depth, older adults, geriatric, mortality.

The Elegant Neurological Exam

The Elegant Neurological Exam

Teaser: 

The neurological exam is arguably the highest yield examination in all of medicine. It certainly is the most elegant part of the physical examination, and watching an experienced neurologist perform an examination can be a thing of beauty. Despite this, my long experience as a teacher suggests that for internists and family physicians the neurological exam is the most feared and probably most poorly executed aspect of the physical examination. I think there are many reasons for this, including the fact that in training we spend less time learning about neurology than, for example, cardiology. As well, an informed neurological exam depends on having a reasonable knowledge of neuroanatomy. For many of us that knowledge seems to steadily erode over the years. In a generalist practice, we almost always examine the lungs and heart of sick patients, but not always the neurological system, so there is less practice. As well, older patients often have multiple neurological findings, and it is hard to separate the background conditions from the important findings.

This is my long-winded explanation of why periodic updates in neurology are of value for most practitioners, and we hope that you will find this primer on neurology helpful. When I mentioned that watching a neurological exam can be a thing of beauty, I was particularly thinking of the author of this month’s CME article, “The Role of the Neurologic Examination in the Diagnosis and Categorization of Dementia.” Dr. John Wherrett is one of Canada’s most accomplished neurologists, and has excelled at one point or another in every area of neurology. New information on the significance and prognosis of essential tremor has recently become available, so the article on “Approach to Tremor in Older Adults” by Dr. Joel Hurwitz is of particular importance. Parkinson’s disease is extremely common among older adults, making the article “An Update on the Management of Parkinson’s Disease” by Drs. Shen-Yang Lim and Susan Fox particularly helpful to those of us who care for older adults. Our Dementia column fits in well with our focus this month, namely “Mild Cognitive Impairment: What Is It and Where Does It Lead?” by Lesley J. Ritchie and Dr. Holly Tuokko.

Our Cardiovascular Disease column this month by Dr. Christian Werner and Dr. Michael Böhm asks a very topical question: “Is Dual Blockade Most Effective for CHF? When to Use ARB and ACE Inhibitors Together”. Our Nutrition column will be of benefit for those who counsel both younger and older patients on diet. It is entitled “Nutritional Guidelines in Canada and the US: Differences between Younger and Older Adults” by Joan Pleuss. And this month’s Case Study is on the topic of “Dysphagia among Older Adults” by Dr. Amira Rana, Anselmo Mendez, and Dr. Shabbir Alibhai.

Enjoy this issue,
Barry Goldlist