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Heart

Introduction

  • As people age, the heart and blood vessels change in many ways.
  • However, regular exercise can reduce many of the effects of aging on the heart and blood vessels.

Sign & Symptoms

  • The walls of the arteries (a type of blood vessel) become thicker and less elastic. The arteries become less able to respond to changes in the amount of blood pumped through them. Thus, blood pressure is higher in older people than in younger people.
  • The walls of the heart become stiffer, and the heart fills with blood more slowly. Despite these changes, a normal older heart functions well.
  • At rest, the differences between young and old hearts are trivial. The differences become apparent only when more work is required of the heart, as occurs when a person exercises vigorously or becomes sick. An older heart cannot increase it’s beats as quickly or as much as a younger heart.
  • A modest increase in left heart (ventricular) wall thickness is normal with age; whereas an exaggerated increase occurs in persons with hypertension.
  • Other normal age-associated changes may include enlargement of the left atrium and slight enlargement of the left ventricular cavity and of the cardiac silhouette seen on chest x-ray but this is of no significance.
Last Review : 26 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Ho Bee Kiau
Reviewed : Dr. Radziah bt. Abdul Rashid