This article shows the epidemiologic dimension of hypertension in the elderly. The number of the elderly in Switzerland is expected to increase significantly until the first decades of the new millenium; therefore, geriatric medicine and hypertension in the elderly in particular will become even more important than it is at present. Cardiovascular disease is blamed for a major share of prematurely lost years of life. In the past few years the age-standardized mortality of ischaemic heart disease has declined in Switzerland, while the rate for cerebrovascular disease has gone down earlier. The project MONICA may explain the reasons for these trends. Hypertension shows also in Switzerland a high prevalence, which even increases in older age groups. In the Framingham cohort study (USA) it was shown that hypertension is the most important risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortalitity in the elderly. This is particularly true for the most common form of hypertension in the elderly, the isolated systolic hypertension. Because of the described demographic development, hypertension in the elderly, its prevention, diagnosis and management will become even more significant.