Cardiovascular and Respiratory Diseases In Elderly

Many age-related physical changes often occur gradually as people age and they’re not always apparent. Some scientists repeatedly stated that people begin to age the moment they are born. So, this continues progressively throughout their lifetime. It’s quite impossible to always generalize about our physical, emotional and psycho-social changes that usually occur with aging process. Each one of us is very unique. And there are so many factors that directly and undirectly contribute to aging process, such as social-economic status, occupation, nutritional status, family history and others.

Cardiovascular Diseases: As we reach 25 years and above, our cardiac output start to decrease. The heart muscle can become much less effective when pumping blood throughout our body. Although our heart rate remains unchanged, our heart requires a bit more time to properly recover after a period of physical exertion or when we are in extremely stressful situations. In addition, our electrical conductive system may function less perfectly and this could lead to cardiac arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation. Also, blood pressure tends to rise with age because blood vessels become narrower and sclerotic. Heart disease is often cited as the leading cause of death among modern people. There are many contributing factors that could lead to this condition, such as obesity, smoking, more sedentary lives, poor diet and severe stress. Typical cardiovascular problems may include heart attack, angina, arrhythmias, hypertension, congestive heart failure, ASHD (arterial sclerotic heart disease) and stroke. On people with moderate to more severe heart conditions, we could see a marked change in their overall tolerance for physical activities. This could be as exhibited by fatigue and shortness of breath. They are unable to do many of the trivial tasks that can be completed at one time. Because of these changes, it is quite common that affected individuals become depressed and they feel burdened. These people are very fearful about dying and especially, sudden death. So, it is imperative that we guide them in any rehabilitative program available to help them cope with major changes.

Respiratory Diseases: Multiple respiratory changes may start to occur with aging process. The overall efficiency of our respiratory system will be decreased. Overall capacity for breathing and air exchange will diminish due weakened muscular tissues in the intercostals and diaphragm and intercostals. Additional decline in lungs performance can be caused by long-term smoking habit and prolonged exposures to heavily polluted air in many urban environments, industries and mining sites. Typical respiratory diseases that affect older people may include pulmonary fibrosis and (COPD) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The latter can be caused by chronic or recurrent respiratory infections as well as hereditary factors and allergies. But, smoking is still the most significant reason of COPD. In fact, COPD is placed in the third place only after heart disease and cancer as the most common causes of deaths or disabilities. When our oxygen intake steadily decreases, we could experience signs and symptoms such as irritability, confusion and weakness.