As a person ages, there are many different things that take place that contribute greatly to cardiovascular disease. The heart begins to work harder to maintain oxygen levels in the body, cholesterol may build up along to walls of arteries, even the ability to replace the fluids lost while breathing decrease immensely. Some of these problems can be prevented and they can also be treated (Webb & Inscho, 2012).
A major change is the decreasing elasticity of the aorta, tube that carries blood to the body, and great arteries, measured as decreased aortic compliance or stretching. As the aorta becomes less compliant, there is increased resistance to ejection of blood from the left ventricle. With a less compliant aorta, the velocity with which the pulse wave travels to the periphery and reflects back increases, so that the pulse wave returns to the aortic root, arriving at a time when the left ventricle is still ejecting the stroke volume. These results in an increased aortic systolic pressure developed by the left ventricle for any given stroke volume and increased ventricular afterload. With a stiffer aorta there is a more rapid drop of pressure in diastole, a lower diastolic pressure, and an increase in pulse pressure (Webb & Inscho, 2012).
Changes in blood pressure occur in the blood vessels and continue into the body’s main framework and cause problems. Receptors called baroreceptors monitor blood pressure and make changes to maintain constant blood pressure. These receptors become less sensitive with aging. In most cases, as stated earlier, the aorta becomes less compliant, which is related to changes in the connective tissue in the blood vessel wall. In response, blood pressure increases forcing the heart to work harder, in turn leading to muscle wall thickening (Dugdale III, 2012). Early prevention is paramount, with life style modifications; daily exercise, a healthy diet and having regular check-ups.