Items in AFP with MESH term: Aged

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Vertebral Compression Fractures in the Elderly - Article

ABSTRACT: Compression fracture of the vertebral body is common, especially in older adults. Vertebral compression fractures usually are caused by osteoporosis, and range from mild to severe. More severe fractures can cause significant pain, leading to inability to perform activities of daily living, and life-threatening decline in the elderly patient who already has decreased reserves. While the diagnosis can be suspected from history and physical examination, plain roentgenography, as well as occasional computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, are often helpful in accurate diagnosis and prognosis. Traditional conservative treatment includes bed rest, pain control, and physical therapy. Interventional procedures such as vertebroplasty can be considered in those patients who do not respond to initial treatment. Family physicians can help patients prevent compression fractures by diagnosing and treating predisposing factors, identifying high-risk patients, and educating patients and the public about measures to prevent falls.


Evaluation and Management of Suspected Retinal Detachment - Article

ABSTRACT: Retinal detachment often is a preventable cause of vision loss. There are three types of retinal detachments: exudative, tractional, and rhegmatogenous. The most common type is rhegmatogenous, which results from retinal breaks caused by vitreoretinal traction. Risk factors for retinal detachment include advancing age, previous cataract surgery, myopia, and trauma. Patients typically will present with symptoms such as light flashes, floaters, peripheral visual field loss, and blurred vision. Early intervention facilitates prevention of retinal detachment after formation of retinal breaks and improves visual outcomes of retinal detachment surgery. Patients with acute onset of flashes or floaters should be referred to an ophthalmologist.


Depression in Later Life: A Diagnostic and Therapeutic Challenge - Article

ABSTRACT: Depression in elderly persons is widespread, often undiagnosed, and usually untreated. The current system of care is fragmented and inadequate, and staff at residential and other facilities often are ill-equipped to recognize and treat patients with depression. Because there is no reliable diagnostic test, a careful clinical evaluation is essential. Depressive illness in later life should be treated with antidepressants that are appropriate for use in geriatric patients. A comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach, including consideration of electroconvulsive treatment in some cases, is important. The overall long-term prognosis for elderly depressed patients is good.


Geriatric Failure to Thrive - Article

ABSTRACT: In elderly patients, failure to thrive describes a state of decline that is multifactorial and may be caused by chronic concurrent diseases and functional impairments. Manifestations of this condition include weight loss, decreased appetite, poor nutrition, and inactivity. Four syndromes are prevalent and predictive of adverse outcomes in patients with failure to thrive: impaired physical function, malnutrition, depression, and cognitive impairment. Initial assessments should include information on physical and psychologic health, functional ability, socioenvironmental factors, and nutrition. Laboratory and radiologic evaluations initially are limited to a complete blood count, chemistry panel, thyroid-stimulating hormone level, urinalysis, and other studies that are appropriate for an individual patient. A medication review should ensure that side effects or drug interactions are not a contributing factor to failure to thrive. The impact of existing chronic diseases should be assessed. Interventions should be directed toward easily treatable causes of failure to thrive, with the goal of maintaining or improving overall functional status. Physicians should recognize the diagnosis of failure to thrive as a key decision point in the care of an elderly person. The diagnosis should prompt discussion of end-of-life care options to prevent needless interventions that may prolong suffering.


Pharmacologic Prevention of Osteoporotic Fractures - Article

ABSTRACT: Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mineral density and a deterioration in the microarchitecture of bone that increases its susceptibility to fracture. The World Health Organization defines osteoporosis as a bone mineral density that is 2.5 standard deviations or more below the reference mean for healthy, young white women. The prevalence of osteoporosis in black women is one half that in white and Hispanic women. In white women 50 years and older, the risk of osteoporotic fracture is nearly 40 percent over their remaining lifetime. Of the drugs that have been approved for the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis, the bisphosphonates (risedronate and alendronate) are most effective in reducing the risk of vertebral and nonvertebral fractures. Risedronate has been shown to reduce fracture risk within one year in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and in patients with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Hormone therapy reduces fracture risk, but the benefits may not outweigh the reported risks. Teriparatide, a recombinant human parathyroid hormone, reduces the risk of new fractures and is indicated for use in patients with severe osteoporosis. Raloxifene has been shown to lower the incidence of vertebral fractures in women with osteoporosis. Salmon calcitonin is reserved for use in patients who cannot tolerate bisphosphonates or hormone therapy.


Pneumonia in Older Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities - Article

ABSTRACT: Compared with community-dwelling persons, residents in long-term care facilities have more functional disabilities and underlying medical illnesses and are at increased risk of acquiring infectious diseases. Pneumonia is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in this group. Risk factors include unwitnessed aspiration, sedative medication, and comorbidity. Recognition may be delayed because, in this population, pneumonia often presents without fever, cough, or dyspnea. Accurate identification of the etiologic agent is hampered because most patients cannot produce a suitable sputum specimen. It is difficult to distinguish colonization from infection. Colonization by Staphylococcus aureus and gram-negative organisms can result from aspiration of oral or gastric contents, which could lead to pneumonia. Aspiration of gastric contents also can produce aspiration pneumonitis. This condition is not infectious initially and may resolve without antibiotics. Antibiotics for the treatment of pneumonia should cover Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, gram-negative rods, and S. aureus. Acceptable choices include quinolones or an extended-spectrum beta-lactam plus a macrolide. Treatment should last 10 to 14 days. Pneumonia is associated with significant mortality for up to two years. Dementia is related independently to the death rate within the first week after pneumonia, regardless of treatment. Prevention strategies include vaccination against S. pneumoniae and influenza on admission to the care facility. This article focuses on recent recommendations for the recognition of respiratory symptoms and criteria for the designation of probable pneumonia, and provides a guide to hospitalization, antibiotic use, and prevention.


Management of Hypertension in Older Persons - Article

ABSTRACT: Antihypertensive therapy has been shown to reduce morbidity and mortality in older patients with elevated systolic or diastolic blood pressures. This benefit appears to persist in patients older than 80 years, but less than one third of older patients have adequate blood pressure control. Systolic blood pressure is the most important predictor of cardiovascular disease. Blood pressure measurement in older persons should include an evaluation for orthostatic hypotension. Low-dose thiazide diuretics remain first-line therapy for older patients. Beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, and calcium channel blockers are second-line medications that should be selected based on comorbidities and risk factors.


Secondary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease in Elderly Patients - Article

ABSTRACT: Coronary heart disease remains a leading cause of mortality in the United States, with 84 percent of persons 65 years or older dying from this disease. Secondary preventive measures, including lifestyle modification and pharmacotherapy, are important for elderly patients because of the variable impacts on morbidity and mortality rates and quality of life. Participating in light to moderate activities significantly decreases mortality rates in elderly patients. Smoking cessation translates into a reduction in overall mortality and morbidity rates at least equal to that of other preventive measures such as aspirin or beta-blocker therapy. Recent studies on the effects of lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels to below 100 mg per dL have shown a substantial reduction in coronary heart disease mortality and nonfatal myocardial infarction rates, with a persistent effect in patients older than 75 years. Hypertension, manifesting mostly as isolated systolic blood pressure elevation, also should be treated aggressively. Conventional medical therapies for hypertension (e.g., diuretics, beta blockers) and newer agents (e.g., calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors), together with sodium restriction, have had a positive effect on cardiovascular mortality and morbidity rates in older patients. With the increasing prevalence of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, interventions targeting weight reduction and glucose control should be emphasized. Whereas weight-loss strategies are poorly defined in this population, the management of diabetes through dietary modification, exercise, and medications is similar across age groups. The target hemoglobin A1C level is less than 7 percent. Elderly patients are prone to depression and social isolation, and they are more likely to have a lower socioeconomic status than younger patients, which may negatively affect participation in rehabilitation programs and compliance with medical advice and therapy. Strategies aimed at these factors have shown variable results and remain ill-defined.


Prevention of Falls in Older Patients - Article

ABSTRACT: Falls are one of the most common geriatric syndromes threatening the independence of older persons. Between 30 and 40 percent of community-dwelling adults older than 65 years fall each year, and the rates are higher for nursing home residents. Falls are associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and nursing home placement. Most falls have multiple causes. Risk factors for falls include muscle weakness, a history of falls, use of four or more prescription medications, use of an assistive device, arthritis, depression, age older than 80 years, and impairments in gait, balance, cognition, vision, and activities of daily living. Physicians caring for older patients should ask about any falls that have occurred in the past year. Assessment should include evaluating the circumstances of the fall and a complete history and physical examination, looking for potential risk factors. The most effective fall prevention strategies are multifactorial interventions targeting identified risk factors, exercises for muscle strengthening combined with balance training, and withdrawal of psychotropic medication. Home hazard assessment and modification by a health professional also is helpful.


Vasomotor Rhinitis - Article

ABSTRACT: Vasomotor rhinitis affects millions of Americans and results in significant symptomatology. Characterized by a combination of symptoms that includes nasal obstruction and rhinorrhea, vasomotor rhinitis is a diagnosis of exclusion reached after taking a careful history, performing a physical examination, and, in select cases, testing the patient with known allergens. According to a 2002 evidence report published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), there is insufficient evidence to reliably differentiate between allergic and nonallergic rhinitis based on signs and symptoms alone. The minimum level of diagnostic testing needed to differentiate between the two types of rhinitis also has not been established. An algorithm is presented that is based on a targeted history and physical examination and a stepwise approach to management that reflects the AHRQ evidence report and U.S. Food and Drug Administration approvals. Specific approaches to the management of rhinitis in children, athletes, pregnant women, and older adults are discussed.


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