Anti aging guide

The Blood Pressure in Old Age



What happens to the blood pressure as we grow older and what is heart failure?

In the developed countries, the blood pressure tends to rise until the 70s and then levels off or even declines. However, this rise is not an integral aspect of human aging since it appears not to occur in Fijians or Amazonian Amerindians. In western societies, the prevalence of hypertension (over 160/90) in the age group 75-9 has been found to be over 40 per cent.

Heart failure can result from virtually every type of heart trouble, with coronary artery disease and high blood pressure being far and away the commonest causes in the western world. As the pumping action of the heart becomes feebler, it becomes unable to cope with all the blood being returned to it by the great veins (especially if there is increased resistance to forward flow), and a back pressure builds up. If this happens acutely, it affects primarily the lungs, which become waterlogged with fluid filling the air spaces (pulmonary oedema) resulting in rapidly progressive breathlessness. This medical emergency often comes on during the night. Although very frightening, it usually responds well to treatment.

Chronic heart failure is much less dramatic and is again the result of failure by the heart to cope with the blood returning to it so that there is back pressure throughout the circulation. The sufferer will notice that he is breathless on exertion and that the ankles are swelling due to accumulation of fluid. Treatment consists of diuretics to disperse the fluid and other drugs to lower resistance to flow through the blood vessels. Once again, the response is satisfactory although the underlying disease process has not been addressed.

Heart failure can also be precipitated by rhythm disturbances when the heart may beat too quickly or too slowly or irregularly, and these also may occur in any type of cardiac pathology.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - May 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm