04/07/2009 - Articles

Dr. Ed's Introduction

By: Ed G. Lakatta, MD

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You're losing your heart again! But this time it's not so much fun! You're losing that incredible organ, your heart to aging, not romance. The 'aging process' is known to causes specific cardiovascular.

To read this article with accompanying illustrations, as well as all the articles in the series, you can go to the mini-site: "Aging of Your Heart and Blood Vessels is Risky" by clicking here .

You're losing your heart again! But this time it's not so much fun! You're losing that incredible organ, your heart to aging, not romance. The "aging process" is known to causes specific cardiovascular changes that impair your heart and blood vessel function. These changes lead not only to reduced physical and mental ability, but getting older is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

In other words, the cardiovascular aging process places even a healthy person, meaning someone without any diagnosed medical condition, at a markedly higher risk for getting cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and heart failure. This means just living longer places you at a very big risk to get a medical condition in the ensuing years, and to die from these diseases before you've gotten to enjoy that long awaited retirement vacation or see the great-grandchildren!

While we can't stop the clock, the good news is that scientists have learned a great deal about the causes of many facets of the aging process. Now they understand, more than ever, about what causes your heart and blood vessels to age and about the interaction of the aging process with cardiovascular disease related changes. And, they have identified risk factors, which predispose a person to cardiovascular disease as well as other illnesses. This understanding provides the basis for developing specific strategies to prevent or to lessen the impact of both aging and disease processes on your heart and blood vessels. So, while we are waiting for science to find the "cure" for aging, there is something we can do. We can practice strategies that have been scientifically proven to prevent or delay the cardiovascular changes, which occur with aging, and the disease processes, which often accompany these changes.

This Series "Aging of Your Heart and Blood Vessels is Risky", contains short articles and is divided into two parts. For you to practice these heart and blood vessel-saving strategies you need first to have an understanding of how the aging process affects your heart and blood vessels. We will teach you about this in Part One of the Series. It will give you some idea of the degree to which you can expect deficits due to aging to occur at various ages and explain why these deficits occur. And, most importantly, it will show you the strategies for how to rescue your heart and vessels from the aging process.

Part Two focuses on mechanisms of how "normal" age associated cardiovascular changes become risk factors for specific cardiovascular diseases. We will explain to you how risk factors for diseases increases exponentially with aging, such that in some societies, one in two older persons may expect to be afflicted by certain diseases. We will also show you how the "aging risk" interacts with other risk factors for diseases. And most of all, until that "fountain of youth" is discovered in someone's laboratory, we'll show you what you can do to prevent, delay or lessen the impact of aging and age-diseases interactions.

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Created on: 11/11/2002
Reviewed on: 04/07/2009

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