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Geriatric Hyponatremia

LAURENCE H. BECK, M.D.; and RISA LAVIZZO-MOUREY, M.D., M.B.A.
Ann Intern Med. 1987;107(5):768-769. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-107-5-768
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The hallmark of geriatric physiology is a diminution in homeostatic reserve; corrective responses to physical, environmental, and metabolic stress are typically slow or incomplete. Prototypical of this narrowed homeostasis is the elderly patient's inadequate defense against water loss. As a result, dehydration is a relatively common problem in elderly patients and is associated with increased morbidity and even mortality (1). There are several age-related physiologic changes underlying this particular loss of reserve.

For example, elderly persons have a change in body composition: the proportion of fat increases by 5% to 10% with a concomitant change in body water. Therefore, a

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