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Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the most frequent diagnosis in elderly people and is the leading cause of death in both men and women older than 65 years of age. Age-related vulnerability to CVD is compounded by the cumulative effect of the normal aging process and cardiovascular risk factors over a lifetime. The study assessed the prevalence of electrocardiographic and echocardiographic abnormalities in patients older than 60 years at the geriatric unit of the University of Port-Harcourt Teaching Hospital.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted over 50 patients admitted to the geriatric ward over one year. The subjects underwent blood pressure and anthropometric parameters clinical examinations. Evaluation of the cardiovascular system was done using resting electrocardiogram and echocardiography.
Results: The mean age of the subjects was 68.3±6.3 years with a female preponderance. Out of the 50 studied patients, 44 were admitted with a diagnosis of heart failure (HF). Preserved ejection fraction was present in 27 out of the 44 patients admitted for HF. Forty-seven patients had an abnormal LV geometry ranging from concentric remodeling to eccentric LV hypertrophy. Diastolic dysfunction was present in majority of the respondents 42 (84%). Resting ECG showed varying degrees of rhythm disturbances. Sinus tachycardia, bradycardia and left anterior fascicular blocks were the most prevalent rhythm disorders. Electrocardiographic LVH and left atrial abnormalities were present in 21 and 27 patients respectively. Prolonged QTc was present in only 4 patients.
Conclusion: Electrocardiographic and ultrasound abnormalities are common in elderly patients and this also reflects the high prevalence of CVD in these groups of patients. Thus, resting ECG and ultrasound should routinely be incorporated as one of the baseline assessments for elderly patients to identify potentially serious heart conditions and also serves as a basis for comparison during subsequent hospitalization.
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