The Cardiovascular Continuum extended: aging effects on the aorta and microvasculature.
The 'Cardiovascular Continuum' was described by Dzau and colleagues in 2006 to explain the development over many years of coronary disease with its complications, then end-stage heart failure. The Continuum identified different points along the way where the process could be interrupted by drug therapies or interventions, then described the trials that have been undertaken over the last three decades to establish their value. The approach summarized the major steps in cardiology through modern times, but it had an emphasis on coronary atherosclerosis in prosperous nations, and did not account fully for the problems of aging, which occur in all societies. Aging of the aorta and elastic arteries causes arterial stiffening and leads to development of cardiac failure and microvascular disease in highly perfused organs such as the brain and kidneys. The 'Vascular Aging Continuum' which we introduce, dovetails with the late phases of the Cardiovascular Continuum and provides a more comprehensive explanation, especially for vascular diseases in nations with little atherosclerosis. It will become more common in the Western World where attention to risk factors and widespread use of statins are responsible for a decrease in atherosclerotic disease, prolongation of life, and dominance of macrovascular and microvascular arterial disease, as well as of cardiac failure.
O'Rourke, MF; Safar, ME; Dzau, V
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