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Hypertension becomes more prevalent with advancing age, and the hemodynamic pattern differs from that in younger patients. In the elderly, elevated blood pressure is primarily due to reduced compliance of large vessels, resulting in an increase in total peripheral resistance, but in younger subjects it mainly reflects an increase in cardiac output. Vasodilator drugs, such as calcium antagonists, might therefore be expected to be particularly effective in lowering blood pressure in the elderly. Clinical experience has confirmed the safety and antihypertensive efficacy of these drugs, with some workers suggesting that calcium antagonists are particularly effective in the elderly. A 6-month multicenter study involving 2,184 patients has shown a direct correlation between pretreatment blood pressure and the degree of blood pressure reduction observed during nicardipine treatment with or without other antihypertensive drugs. Isolated systolic hypertension was significantly reduced but diastolic blood pressure was not affected. The incidence of side effects among elderly hypertensive patients, both with and without concomitant disease, was slightly lower than in younger patients.