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OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease among elderly people. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. SETTING: A district of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. METHODS: As a part of the Rotterdam Study information about smoking habits, blood pressure, Quetelet index and serum cholesterol of 7,983 responding persons (78%) (3,105 men and 4,878 women) of 55 years and older was obtained by an interview and physical examination during two visits to a research center. RESULTS: Among men and women there were 29.7% and 16.7% smokers and 60.1% and 25.9% ex-smokers, respectively. Among men the proportion of smokers decreased from 31.0% in the age category 55-59 years to 15.9% in de category > or = 85 years, among women from 28.0% to 2.7%. Systolic blood pressure increased with age in both sexes, while diastolic blood pressure hardly changed. Hypertension (systolic blood pressure 160 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure > or = 95 mmHg at a single measurement and/or use of antihypertensive drugs) occurred in 23.3% of men and 28.0% of women. In men, total serum cholesterol decreased gradually with age, whereas in women there was a slight increase up to the category 70-74 years. No evident change in HDL cholesterol with increasing age was observed in men, but in women a decrease was observed until the same level was reached as in men. Thirty-five per cent of men and 49.5% of women had an elevated level of serum cholesterol (> or = 6.5 mmol/l). The prevalence of obesity (Quetelet index > 25 kg/m2) was about 50% in both men and women but was less in the categories from 75 years onwards. Approximately 80% of men and women had at least one risk factor, while in almost half of them two or more risk factors were found. CONCLUSION: Risk factors for cardiovascular disease are common among elderly people.


Journal article


Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde

Publication Date





1983 - 1988


Erasmus Universiteit, Instituut Epidemiologie en Biostatistiek, Rotterdam.


Humans, Cardiovascular Diseases, Hypertension, Obesity, Cholesterol, Risk Factors, Cohort Studies, Prospective Studies, Smoking, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Netherlands, Female, Male