Older Adults at Higher Risk:
People aged 65 and older have a significantly increased likelihood of experiencing heart-related conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, coronary heart disease, and heart failure compared to younger individuals.
Impact of Heart Disease:
Heart disease causes severe disability and negatively impacts the quality of life of older adults, limiting their activity levels and reducing overall well-being.
Aging leads to changes in the heart and blood vessels, affecting their ability to function properly. One of the most notable changes is a decrease in the heart's ability to beat rapidly during physical activity or stress.
Arteriosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, is the most common age-related change in the cardiovascular system, leading to increased stiffness of large arteries.
Hypertension in Aging:
The stiffening of arteries causes hypertension or high blood pressure, which becomes more prevalent as we age.
The aging heart also changes the electrical system which leads to arrhythmias, a condition characterized by a rapid, slowed, or irregular heartbeat.
Changes in the heart result in the need for a pacemaker, a small device implanted under the skin that helps to regulate the heartbeat, and ensures that the heart maintains a regular rhythm.
Changes in Heart Size:
Age-related cardiac changes include larger heart chambers and thicker heart walls, which result in less blood flow. Atrial fibrillation risk is increased by these modifications.
Increased Sensitivity to Salt:
As you get older, your salt sensitivity increases, which raises your blood pressure and increases the risk of ankle or foot swelling (edema).
Other Age-Related Changes:
Other heart changes brought on by aging include the thickening of heart valves and a reduction in the number of pacemaker cells in the heart, which affects the heart's ability to regulate its rhythm.
Prevention and Management:
Understanding age-related heart changes and their impact helps you to take the necessary steps to maintain optimal heart health and prevent or manage heart-related conditions as you age.