Organ dysfunction or MOF (multiple organ failure) is one of the notable causes of age-related diseases such hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s and it’s one of the leading causes of deaths to persons over 65 years of age.
The lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, and brain are the most essential organs of the human body and are more likely to suffer from diseases related to aging. For instance, cardiac disease (a disease that involves blood vessels and heart), also regarded as CVD (Cardiovascular Disease) is known to be the main cause of death in individuals aged more than 65 years. Additionally, research has found out that 80% of the total deaths caused by heart-related diseases occur to persons within this age-group.
Since CVD results to the largest number of deaths among the advanced ages, this article points to the understanding of how organ dysfunction related to aging affects the cardiac activity.
The Cardiovascular System
As one age or grows older, many changes within the body becomes common especially that related to the blood, its vessels, and the heart. If left untreated, such changes can bring a lot of damage to the cardiac system affecting the cardiovascular activities to a great extent.
The tiniest of all arteries are called capillaries. They’re regarded as the most active blood vessels since they’re involved in many different functions. For instance, they give up oxygen to the body tissues and receive carbon dioxide from the same tissues as a waste product. Eventually, they collect together into smaller to larger blood vessels called veins which return blood back to-the-heart.
The following shows how aging is connected to organ dysfunction which greatly affects the blood vessels and the heart, leading to problems that alter the cardiac activity of an older person.
Effects of Aging to the Cardiovascular System
a) The Heart
- Heart changes cause the ECG of a normal, healthy older person to be slightly different than the ECG of a healthy younger adult. Heart ECG Monitoring (the electrocardiogram) is a painless, safe, and quick test that measures the heart’s electrical activity. Disorders such as arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) are found mostly in older adults and make them succumb greatly to heart disease.
- Lipofuscin is considered to be one of the aging or “wear-and-tear” pigments, is usually deposited on the heart’s smooth muscles causing them to slightly degenerate. In addition, the valves become stiffer and also thicken. This causes a condition known as the heart murmur.
- The whole heart may increase in size slightly due to the thickening of walls. This’s mostly seen in older adults with more than 60 years of age. The heart appears bigger but in a real sense, the amount of space required to hold blood for pumping is actually reduced. This leads to problems associated with pumping since the amount of blood flow within the heart is very slow.
b) Blood Vessels
- The aorta (main artery from the heart), and most other arteries thicken and becomes less flexible and stiffer. This is mainly caused by the connective tissue found on the walls of blood vessels. As a result, blood pressures increase making the heart pump faster (This’s why older persons have a slight increase in blood pressure). This may cause hypertrophy, a condition associated with the thickening of muscles of the heart.
- The walls of the capillaries also thicken moderately lowering the rate at which nutrients are absorbed into the tissues and wastes released from them. This generally alters the general health of an older person.
- There’s a total reduction of water in the body as one age. This causes the blood to change moderately. Because of this, the capacity of blood decreases.
- The rate at which blood cells are generated decreases. Others such as the erythrocytes (RBCs) stops being produced staying at the same level. WBCs especially the neutrophils (attached to strengthening immunity) decreases. This makes older people lack the capacity to resist infections becoming more vulnerable to disease-causing organisms such as bacteria and virus.
- Because the rate at which the blood cells especially the RBCs are produced is reduced, it becomes a bigger problem to fight with conditions such as anemia.
Common Problems Associated with Organ Dysfunction in Older People
- High Blood pressure – Older adults with hypertension need to work very closely with their doctor so as to know how to manage this condition with medicines.
- Anemia – This comes as a result of blood loss, chronic infections, malnutrition, and certain drugs.
- Various types of Arrhythmias (changes in heart rhythms) occur.
- The Coronary artery disease (CAD) caused by atherosclerosis which is a buildup of plaque inside the artery walls.
- Angina – A common heart disease linked to symptoms such as chest pains, shortness of breath, pain in the back and neck, and may cause heart disease.
- Valve diseases such as aortic stenosis. Older adults have this kind of disease and developed as they age.
- Strokes or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) occurs when there is a disruption in blood flow to the brain.
Older adults (between ages 65 — 75) can visit regular checkups for cardiac ECG monitoring services in order to identify cases such as heart disease, hypertension, and other related problems such as hypertension. People who smoke or those who have some smoking history should consider getting screened for conditions such as aneurysms.
Having a heart rate monitor in one’s home can help identify situations such as slow heartbeats and changes in heart rhythms. This is necessary for every older adult who is more than 60 years of age. Regular exercises and eating a balanced diet help prevent diabetes and obesity.