The Effects of Aging and Your Heart Health

As you age, your body begins to change the way it works. For example, as you get older your heart cannot beat as fast during physical activity or in times of stress compared to when you were younger. As you age the walls of your arteries can build up with fatty deposits which results in a stiffening or “hardening” of the arteries, leading to high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease, heart failure and stroke.

Aging can cause other changes in the hearts electrical system. For example, the chambers in your heart cannot hold as much blood as they used to, often leading to heart rhythm problems in older adults. This may result in some older adults requiring a pacemaker. Dr A. Affleck, Board member of Northern Hearts says, “although you cannot see it, your heart normally shows the effects of aging over time.”

To protect yourself and your loved ones from serious injury, it is important to know the signs of heart disease. The American Heart Association says “don’t wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort.”

Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:

  • Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the c

enter of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs: Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.

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Submitted by: Kayla Waddington, Program Coordinator, Northern Hearts