1. Systemic and renal haemodynamics, intravascular volume, circulating catecholamines and plasma renin activity were measured in 18 patients with established essential hypertension who were older than 60 years of age. Each patient was matched with respect to mean arterial pressure, body surface area, race and sex with a patient that was younger than 42 years of age.
2. When compared with the younger group, elderly patients had a lower cardiac output, impaired myocardial reserve, lesser aortic elasticity, higher total peripheral resistance, more contracted intravascular volume and higher circulating noradrenaline levels.
3. Similar effects of age, although less pronounced, have been reported in normotensive subjects. We conclude that essential hypertension is a pathophysiological process that seems to accelerate the natural physiological haemodynamic, fluid volume and endocrine processes of aging.