Aging of the Heart and Arteries

Relevance to Cardiovascular Disease
  • Samer S. Najjar
  • Edward G. Lakatta
Part of the Contemporary Cardiology book series (CONCARD)

Abstract

The world population in both industrialized and developing countries is aging. For example, in the United States, 35 million people are over the age of 65 years, and the number of older Americans is expected to double by the year 2030. The clinical and economic implications of this demographic shift are staggering because age is the most powerful risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). The incidence and prevalence of hypertension, coronary artery disease (CAD), congestive heart failure, and stroke, the quintessential diseases of Western society, increase exponentially with age. Although epidemiological studies have discovered that some aspects of lifestyle and genetics are risk factors for these diseases, age, per se, confers the major risk. Thus, it is reasonable to hypothesize that specific pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie these diseases become superimposed on cardiac and vascular substrates that have been modified by an “aging process,” and that the latter modulates disease occurrence and severity. In other words, age-associated changes in cardiovascular structure and function become “partners” with pathophysiological disease mechanisms, lifestyle, and genetics in determining the threshold, severity, and prognosis of CVD occurrence in older persons (Fig. 1).

Keywords

Permeability Migration Ischemia Superoxide Adenosine 

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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samer S. Najjar
    • 1
  • Edward G. Lakatta
    • 1
  1. 1.Gerontology Research Center, Intramural Research ProgramNational Institute on Aging, National Institutes of HealthBaltimore

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