Heart Disease and Its Impact on the Elderly

Heart Disease and Its Impact on the Elderly

May 20, 2020 | by Hannah Turk and the National 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.

Risk Factors

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.


Something to keep in mind with Heart Disease is the severity of symptoms do not always correlate with the severity of the disease. One could experience mild symptoms but have a serious condition. It is important, if any of these symptoms are noted below, a doctor is consulted.

Living with Heart Disease

Heart disease requires lifelong precautions that can include but are not limited to:

Heart Healthy Lifestyle Choices for the Elderly

Safe exercises are a key component to defending the elderly against heart disease. Function and mobility in the muscles weaken as we age. Being active is the best way to slow muscle break down. Here is a list of low impact exercises that are safe for elderly to participate in.

Diet plays a big role in remaining healthy with heart disease. And it is not just about what not to eat. Since many people with heart failure are often short on important nutrients, we should focus on eating more foods that are healthy. This might include

Coping with Heart Disease

You may be experiencing a myriad of difficult emotions if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with heart disease. Learning as much as you can about the condition and the treatments available is a great way to become more hopeful. Actively managing your condition by tracking your treatment goals and celebrating your achievements will assist in promoting a higher quality of life.

Sharing your experiences with friends and family members can also give you hope. There are multiple support groups for people with heart conditions. Getting to know people going through the same things can build confidence in dealing with your diagnosis. Reading stories from other survivors is an excellent way to grow hope. You are not alone in your diagnosis.

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