With the global population aging at an unprecedented rate, the health care industry must adapt to the unique challenges posed by the increase in the elderly demographic. One area of particular concern is the prevalence of endocrine and metabolic diseases in older adults, which is disproportionately high compared to younger populations. In a recent issue of “Orvosi Hetilap,” researchers Kőhalmi Edit and Bakó Gyula from the Debreceni Egyetem in Hungary explored these challenges in an article published on January 16, 2024, under the title “Endocrine changes, endocrine diseases in the elderly” (Orv Hetil. 2024; 165(2): 51–58; DOI: 10.1556/650.2024.32950).

The Aging Population and Endocrine Pathophysiology

As life expectancy increases around the world, an irreversible trend emerges that persists in expanding the proportion of elderly within the population. This trend shows no signs of reversal in the foreseeable future and holds significant implications for health care. The physiological parameters of the elderly differ markedly from those of younger adults, leading to a distinct pattern of morbidity. Such variances include common endocrine diseases like hypopituitarism, hypothyroidism, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, adrenal insufficiency, varying forms of hypogonadism, and malignant endocrine diseases, which are more frequent in older adults.

The Path to Diagnosis and Treatment

A considerable challenge that health professionals face when dealing with older patients is that the baseline laboratory values for hormones are generally lower than the standard levels considered normal. This factor should be given great attention during diagnosis and treatment, necessitating adjustments based on the specific characteristics of this age group to achieve optimal outcomes.

A Call for Focused Education

The authors underscore the necessity for heightened emphasis on the deviations related to old age during the education of internists and endocrinologists. This focus should be an integral part of the training process to ensure that future practitioners are well-equipped to manage and treat endocrine diseases in the elderly efficiently.

Keywords

1. Elderly Endocrine Changes
2. Aging and Endocrinology
3. Geriatric Metabolic Diseases
4. Hypothyroidism in the Elderly
5. Osteoporosis and Aging

References

1. Kőhalmi, E., & Bakó, G. (2024). [Endocrine changes, endocrine diseases in the elderly]. Orvosi Hetilap, 165(2), 51–58. https://doi.org/10.1556/650.2024.32950
2. World Health Organization. (2021). Ageing and Health. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health
3. Maggio, M., & Ceda, G. P. (2005). Endocrine implications of aging. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 16(3), 96–102.
4. Harman, S. M., Metter, E. J., Tobin, J. D., Pearson, J., & Blackman, M. R. (2001). Longitudinal effects of aging on serum total and free testosterone levels in healthy men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 86(2), 724–731.
5. Duarte, R. T., The Portuguese Society for Osteoporosis and Other Metabolic Bone Diseases (SPODOM). (2004). Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and men from the age of 50 in the UK. Osteoporosis International, 15(1), 1–8.

This article serves as a valuable guide for health care professionals in understanding the intricate nature of endocrine changes in the aging population. It also informs public health policy by demonstrating the need for advanced training in geriatric endocrinology, thus enhancing the overall health and quality of life for the elderly. With the continuous increase in life expectancy, the insights provided by this research are more critical than ever, paving the way for future studies and improvements in the management and treatment of endocrine diseases in older adults.