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Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1991 Jan;4 Suppl 6:1273-80.

Required beta blocker profile in the elderly.

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Heart Research Unit, University of Cape Town, Medical School, South Africa.


In the truly elderly, a complex balance between compensatory processes and impaired organ function allows reasonably normal physical function. It is argued that beta blockade should have certain desirable qualities to minimize any impairment of organ function, thereby upsetting the quality of life. Thus a simple pharmacokinetic pattern without hepatic metabolism is less likely to cause unexpected variation in blood levels of the beta blocking agents and to have fewer risks of interactions with other drugs including nicotine. Renal-excreted beta blockers--such as atenolol, nadolol, and celiprolol--do, however, need downward dose adjustment when the glomerular filtration rates fall. The elderly are frequently categorized as having a low renin profile, which in the view of some workers may make a vasodilatory beta blocker more desirable. Hemodynamic advantages of such agents include the prime site of attack in hypertension on the increased peripheral vascular resistance, increasingly fundamental with a prolonged duration of hypertension and therefore with the aging process. Furthermore, a normal heart rate with a sustained cardiac output may avoid symptomatic bradycardia. In the elderly, respiratory function may be impaired so that loss of elastic recoil causes elderly emphysema. A highly cardioselective beta blocker should be an advantage. Finally, minimal interference with glucose and lipid metabolism should also be desirable goals.

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