Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One in every four deaths in the country is due to heart disease, which proves what a serious disease it is. As a person ages, their heart becomes more and more susceptible to diseases and problems. The heart goes changes just as the rest of your body does when you get older.
The Heart Slows Down
While your resting heart rate stays mostly the same as you age, the heart becomes unable to beat as fast as it did during your youth. The inability of the heart to beat as fast during vigorous physical activity is one of the reasons that athletic performance diminishes with age.
Another heart condition associated with aging is the hardening of the walls of the arteries, which is called arteriosclerosis. When the artery walls harden it restricts blood flow in your body. This causes the muscles, tissues, and organs to not get enough oxygen flow, which hampers their performances. This can lead to fatigue and disease over time.
Heart Wall Thickens
When blood flow is restricted by arteriosclerosis, it causes the heart to pump harder to compensate for it. When the heart is consistently beating harder, it will cause the walls of the heart to thicken over time. This could lead to a condition called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM) disease, which hinders blood flow from the heart to the left ventricle. This is a very serious condition that can be life-threatening, and it requires medical or surgical intervention to correct it.
Heart Valve Trouble
One of the most common heart changes that comes with age is that the valves of the heart will become thicker and stiffer. When this happens, it can lead to heart problems that range all the way from minor issues to life-threatening conditions. The valves can start to leak, allowing blood to trickle out where it isn’t supposed to go. The heart can also have trouble pumping blood when the valves fail.
Heart Sections Become Enlarged
If there is a problem with your heart that forces it to work harder, it can lead to areas of your heart becoming enlarged. When this happens, it can cause further problems as your heart struggles to maintain the proper blood flow throughout your body. An irregular heartbeat is often the result when some sections of the heart become enlarged while others remain unchanged.
Preventing Serious Heart Changes
While your heart will age no matter what you do, there are many things you can do to slow down the aging process and keep your heart as healthy as possible. If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do for your aging heart is to stop smoking immediately. Exercise is important to reduce the effects of aging on your heart. You should get 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity to keep your heart in good shape. Eating a nutritious diet with heart-healthy foods is also essential. You also need to get regular heart screenings to ensure your heart is staying in good condition.
While it is scary to think about your heart aging, you can help it to age gracefully by living a healthy lifestyle. When you take care of your heart properly, it will take care of you as you live a long life filled with activities and hobbies you enjoy. Eat right, exercise and get regular medical checkups to enjoy a healthy heart as you age.