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How Your Heart Changes with Age

How Your Heart Changes with Age

Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, keeping the rest of it running like a well-oiled machine. A healthy heart is able to effectively pump oxygenated blood to every area of your body that needs it.

 

As you continue to get older, certain areas of your physical health begin to become different — including your heart. The experts at ATRIO Health Plans are here to break down the ways that your heart and the rest of your cardiovascular system change over time.

Heartbeat

The heart has a natural pacemaker that is responsible for controlling the heartbeat. Aging can affect your heart’s ability to beat properly, leading to the development of arrhythmia — which is a slowed, rapid, or otherwise irregular heartbeat.

 

The following natural side effects of aging can result in a slowed heart rate:

  • The pathways of this system can develop fatty deposits and fibrous tissues. The valves within your heart
  • Your heart’s natural pacemaker loses some of its cells.
  • The cells within your heart muscle deteriorate.
  • The valves within your heart thicken and become stiffer.
  • Your heart slightly increases in size.
  • The heart walls thicken.

Blood Vessels

Aging also affects your blood vessels and your body’s ability to maintain healthy blood pressure. Your blood vessels may undergo the following changes as you get older, resulting in higher blood pressure:

  • Your capillary walls thicken.
  • The aorta and other arteries become thicker and less flexible.
  • Your baroreceptors, which monitor and maintain your blood pressure, become less sensitive.

Blood

Your blood also undergoes change as you get older, making it harder for your body to fight off infection and respond to trauma. Some of the ways that your blood changes include:

  • Your blood volume decreases.
  • Blood production slows down.
  • Decreased number and quality of certain white blood cells (neutrophils).