The use of antihypertensive agents has increased in recent years and has been more marked among individuals in older age groups (65-74 years) than in middle-aged groups (45-54 years). Because hypertension is a strong risk factor for the development of congestive heart failure, more common use of antihypertensive agents would be expected to reduce the incidence of congestive heart failure. Examination of the national death statistics reveals decreases in congestive heart failure mortality at younger ages with mortality increases at older ages. The reasons for these divergent trends in congestive heart failure mortality in different ages and the apparent inconsistency with respect to the changes in the use of antihypertensive drugs are explored. We speculate that antihypertensive treatment does not completely prevent congestive heart failure but merely postpones its development by several decades.