Systolic hypertension in the elderly: arterial wall mechanical properties and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system

J Hypertens. 2005 Apr;23(4):673-81. doi: 10.1097/01.hjh.0000163130.39149.fe.


Background: Systolic hypertension in the elderly involves an increase of arterial stiffness and early wave reflections, both of them causing a predominant or selective increase of systolic blood pressure. The mechanisms for such alterations remain largely unknown.

Description and results: The development of systolic hypertension includes constantly an age-related increase of sodium sensitivity and of endothelial dysfunction, both responsible for phenotypic changes of aortic smooth muscle cells with collagen accumulation and increased stiffness. In the presence of a high sodium diet and under the influence of angiotensin II and aldosterone, a higher number of attachments between vascular smooth muscle cells and collagen fibers develop, causing a supplementary increase in stiffness independent of the mean blood pressure together with the occurrence of early wave reflections. Gene polymorphisms related to the renin-angiotensin system may participate in this evolution.

Conclusion: This process contributes to accelerating the increase in pulse pressure and arterial stiffness with age, and therefore to the development of cardiovascular risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arteries / physiopathology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Renal / physiopathology*
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical