People over the age of sixty-five (65) are more likely to suffer a heart attack, have a stroke, or develop coronary heart disease (commonly called heart disease) and heart failure. Heart disease is also a leading cause of limiting the activity, disability, and eroding the quality-of-life for seniors.
Aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels. The most common aging change is increased stiffness of the large arteries, called arteriosclerosis (ahr-teer-ee-o-skluh-roh-sis), or hardening of the arteries.
A major cause of heart disease is the buildup of fatty deposits in the walls of arteries over many years. The good news is there are things you can do to delay, lower, or possibly avoid or reverse your risk. This causes high blood pressure, or hypertension, which becomes more common as we age.
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure (also referred to as HBP, or hypertension) is when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high. Learn more about high blood pressure. High Blood Pressure can cause strokes, vision loss, heart failure, heart attack, sexual dysfunction, and kidney disease/failure.
High blood pressure and other risk factors, including advancing age, increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis. Because there are several modifiable risk factors for atherosclerosis, it is not necessarily a normal part of aging. Plaque builds up inside the walls of your arteries and, over time, hardens and narrows your arteries, which limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body. Oxygen and blood nutrients are supplied to the heart muscle through the coronary arteries. Heart disease develops when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, reducing blood flow to your heart muscle.
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Age can cause other changes to the heart. For example:
- Age-related changes in the electrical system can lead to arrhythmias. — a rapid, slowed, or irregular heartbeat—and/or the need for a pacemaker. Valves—the one-way, door-like parts that open and close to control blood flow between the chambers of your heart—may become thicker and stiffer. Stiffer valves can limit the flow of blood out of the heart and become leaky, both of which can cause fluid to build up in the lungs or in the body (legs, feet, and abdomen).
- The heart chambers may increase in size. The heart wall thickens, so the amount of blood that a chamber can hold may decrease despite the increased overall heart size. The heart may fill more slowly. Long-standing hypertension is the main cause of increased thickness of the heart wall, which can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm problem in older people.
- With increasing age, people become more sensitive to salt, which may cause an increase in blood pressure and/or ankle or edema (foot swelling).
Other factors, such as family history or other illnesses, might increase your risk of heart disease. But, leading a heart-healthy lifestyle might help you avoid or delay serious illness.
Source for more information: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/heart-health-and-aging#changes