1. Berra, Kathy MSN, ANP, FAAN, Guest Editor
  2. Allen, Jerilyn K. PhD, RN, ScD, FAAN, Guest Editor

Article Content

The American population is composed of 296 million persons, with 35 million of these being older than 65 years. Among the older population, those older than 85 years showed the highest percentage increase in the 2000 census.1 Older adults present unique opportunities and challenges for healthcare providers and deserve both our respect and our attention. Nurses are educated and positioned to provide both urgent and chronic care for older adults. With our commitment to care throughout the age span, we must continue to seek ways to improve detection, prevention, and treatment of illnesses common in older persons. We also need to find ways to provide older adults with choices and treatment options and to support "successful aging" through the implementation of scientifically proven safe and effective therapies.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke are the leading causes of death for men and women in the United States and worldwide. Stroke and CVD are responsible for more deaths than cancer, accidents, and diabetes combined.2 The prevalence of CVD increases with age and is found in 68% of men and 75% of women older than 65 years. The prevalence increases to 77% and 86%, respectively, in those older than 75 years. This enormous risk exists across all ethnic populations. Annually, 1 million men and women suffer an acute myocardial infarction, and the risk rises each year after the age of 65.2,3


Risk factors associated with CVD and stroke are well recognized but poorly controlled in older adults. It is well established that the risk of hypertension rises significantly with age and is a main cause of rising rates of heart failure. The NHANES survey in 2002 reported that 62.7% of men and women older than 60 years with diagnosed hypertension were treated, with only 43% being controlled.2 Costs associated with caring for CVD reached $393.5 billion in 2005 and are expected to continue to rise along with our aging population.


These facts and many others led us to invite respected authors in the field of cardiovascular and stroke nursing to join us in providing an update regarding prevalence, treatment options, and unique issues related to cardiac and vascular diseases in older adults.2


We invite you to read this issue, share it with your colleagues, and join us in our commitment to improving cardiovascular health throughout the life span.


Kathy Berra, MSN, ANP, FAAN


Stanford Prevention Research Center


School of Medicine, Stanford University


Jerilyn K. Allen, PhD, RN, ScD, FAAN


Professor, Associate Dean for Research


School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University


Guest Editors




1. The 65 Years and Over Population. 2000. Available at: [Context Link]


2. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2006 Update. A Report From the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Circulation. 113(6):e85-e151, February 14, 2006. [Context Link]


3. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES III, 1999-2002). CDC/NCHS. [Context Link]