Revista Colombiana de Cardiología
Print version ISSN 0120-5633
Cardiovascular aging is associated with characteristic biochemical, histological and morphological changes. Nevertheless, these changes are not necessarily associated to a deterioration in its function. Among the cardiac changes found, there is a reduction in the number of myocytes and of the cardiac conduction system cells, development of fibrosis, changes in the trans-membrane calcium transport and a decrease of chronotropism, inotropism and lusitropism, mediated by beta-adrenergic stimuli. At a vascular level, there is an increment of rigidity in the arterial walls with increase in the velocity of the pulse wave, endothelial dysfunction and decrease of vasodilation mediated by beta-adrenergic stimuli. During rest the cardiovascular system is able to develop efficient accommodative mechanisms, but in stressful situations such as exercise, the changes associated to aging become evident, due to the diminishment in the capacity to obtain the maximal heart rate, the increase in the post-load and the decrease of the intrinsic contractility. Because of this, the elderly must maximize the Frank-Starling mechanism in order to maintain cardiac output. Structural and functional changes associated to cardiovascular aging become evident and must be known by the elderly health-care staff.
Keywords : aging; cardiovascular system.