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Heart Disease and Its Impact on the Elderly

May 20, 2020 | by H. Turk and the Nationl Care Planning Council

Functions of the Heart

Our heart is a muscle, divided into 4 chambers. The right and left atriums occupy the upper chambers while the right and left ventricles fill the bottom chambers. The right side of the heart receives blood from the body and pumps it through the lungs to reoxygenate the blood. The left side of the heart pushes the replenished blood back through the body. This cycle repeats with every beat of the heart. Blood travels through the body's circulatory system. Blood vessels, arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins make up the circulatory system. This system delivers necessary oxygen and nutrients to our bodies. It also removes carbon dioxide and other waste products.

Types of Heart Disease

Heart disease is a term used to describe any disorder of the heart. There are many types of heart diseases. Some you may be born with while others develop overtime. For example, acquired heart valve disease develops over a person's lifetime. It occurs when a normal functioning heart slowly declines due to family history, illness, or aging. Acquired heart valve disease typically affect the mitral and aortic valves. Congenital valve disease, which is present at birth, is a result of abnormalities where heart valves do not fully form or form into the wrong shape or size. Coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, and arrhythmia are some examples of heart disease.

How Hearts Change with Age

Heart disease is the most frequent condition found among the elderly. It also the number one cause of death for the elderly. Normal aging (wear and tear) is the most common cause of a multitude of adverse changes within the structure of the heart. For example, the heart of an elderly man does not beat as fast with increased activity causing his body to fatigue faster. Over time, fatty deposits build up on the walls of arteries, causing obstruction of blood flow. The most common change is the hardening of arteries leading to high blood pressure.

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2010 December 8 - The Perfect Holiday Caregiver: It's all a state of mind
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The NCPC has been publishing articles since 2006. To access articles written earlier than 2010, please visit the member section.