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The Aging Process

Michael C. Geokas, MD, PhD; Edward G. Lakatta, MD; Takashi Makinodan, MD; and Paola S. Timiras, MD, PhD
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant Support: In part by a grant-in-aid from Fisons Corporation, Rochester, New York; the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Research Funds; the Kirby Foundation; and the State of California, Department of Health Services, Alzheimer's Disease Program.

Requests for Reprints: Michael C. Geokas, MD, PhD, Department of Veterans Affairs Martinez Medical Center (612/111), 150 Muir Road, Martinez, California 94553.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. Geokas: Department of Veterans Affairs Martinez Medical Center (612/111), 150 Muir Road, Martinez, California 94553.

Dr. Lakatta: Gerontology Research Center, 4940 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21224.

Dr. Makinodan: Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Department of Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles, California 90073.

Dr. Timiras: Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720.


© 1990 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1990;113(6):455-466. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-113-6-455
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The intricate cause of the aging process in humans and animals, at present a matter of intense speculation, has given rise to many theories. Despite its uncertain cause, aging constitutes the most significant and universal problem confronting physicians today. Age-related physiologic deterioration and age-associated diseases are of immense concern to physicians because of the "old-age boom" anticipated in the first part of the twenty-first century. Biomedical research achievements in the twentieth century have permitted more persons to approach the fixed upper limit of the human lifespan. We discuss the functional decline of the aging heart and the underlying mechanisms of that decline; quantitative and qualitative changes in the immune system; and normal aging of the human brain contrasted to the brain changes seen in Alzheimer disease. With our growing geriatric population, we greatly need to increase our understanding of both the causes of human aging and the goals of gerontology and geriatrics and to expand research into the significant problem of Alzheimer disease.

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