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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1986 Jan;34(1):27-36.

Nutritional contributors to cardiovascular disease in the elderly.


Cardiovascular disease, so common in the elderly, has become an urgent public health concern. Major contributing factors include hypertension, dyslipidemia, impaired glucose tolerance, physical indolence, and cigarette smoking. Diet plays a major role in atherogenesis by its influence in blood lipids, blood pressure, and glucose tolerance, although its impact in the elderly is speculative owing to a paucity of direct evidence. But a rationale exists. Most cardiovascular risk factors are more prevalent in the elderly than in the young adult. The rise in blood pressure and blood lipids with advancing age is not inevitable. Diet may contribute to hypertension through an excess of calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, or salt and a deficiency of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Antiatherogenic diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol, rich in fiber, and with substitution of polyunsaturated fat and restricted calories tend to normalize serum lipids and to cause lesions to involute. Emphasis on vegetable protein and fiber-rich food has merit because they provide more fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium, selenium, complex carbohydrate, potassium, and copper, and less cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium. The recommended fat-modified diets are adequate in protein, vitamins, and minerals and need not be deficient in any nutrient or economically nonfeasible. The accelerating decline in cardiovascular mortality, which has included the elderly, indicates that such disease is controllable and not inevitable, even in the elderly. The decrease has occurred concurrently with reduced consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, increased use of vegetable oils, and improved levels of cardiovascular risk factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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