The first day of October has been World Elderly Day for decades. In other words, we have to pay special attention to them "officially" on this day as well. We want to ensure that they can spend their everyday life in the best possible quality and as actively as possible. This attention is obviously not for a single day, but perhaps it can be a message for every day of the year to take care of them! For parents, grandparents, former colleagues, friends. After all, they are the custodians of the family nest, their hearts are the engine of the communities of the past, present and future. With us, what else is this call to attention about, if not about their hearts, which is certainly more than the presentation of the risks that threaten them and come with the passage of time. Age is the risk factor we cannot control. The years pass, a person's physical performance decreases, and this is partially due to the deterioration of the heart's load capacity. Let's review the changes that inevitably appear over time even with a healthy heart. The wall of the left heart chamber, which supplies blood to the whole body, gradually thickens during aging. The number of muscle cells does not increase, but rather decreases, but they get bigger. This does not increase the strength of the heart, but rather makes it worse. At rest, this is not very effective, but if the performance should be increased, the low load capacity will quickly become apparent. An interesting change is that there will be fewer and fewer cells dictating the heart rate. In part, this explains why heart function slows down a bit in old age, but it is mainly important that if the heart should speed up considerably during strong movement, this is only marginally effective. The ability of the heart muscle to contract also weakens and the reserve power is smaller. Of course, this is first seen in hard combat sports, where tennis stars over the age of thirty are quickly knocked off the court by players in their early twenties. By the way, the world of sports is one in which it is obvious very early on that aging begins quickly, only progressing in slow waves over decades. Aging does not spare blood vessels either. The wall of the coronary arteries thickens and this does not mean atherosclerosis, but rather the vessel wall becomes stiffer. This means that its plasticity will be worse, i.e. it expands less than before for the same increase in pressure. Significant changes also occur on the inner surface of blood vessels. When the three researchers who clarified that the dilation of blood vessels is caused by nitric oxide gas, which is released by the cells lining the inner surface of the vessel wall, received the Nobel Prize in 1998, we did not yet know that it occurs to a similar extent in old age. but its biological usefulness decreases - it is no coincidence that aging blood vessels do not dilate as they should sometimes. Then there's the blood pressure. Most older people will have a higher systolic blood pressure, the first reading that occurs when the heart's left ventricle pushes blood into the aorta and the pressure rises suddenly. Professor Merkely and his colleagues clearly demonstrate that higher pressure and a stiffer vascular system represent an increased risk factor. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the pressure-sensitive reflexes, which play a fundamental role in the regulation of blood pressure, also function abnormally as a result of aging. The study, which attracted a great deal of international attention, clearly explains that old age alone, even without advanced atherosclerosis or actual organ diseases, creates a number of dysfunctions, some of which require further investigations, but due to the increasing number of elderly people worldwide, a thorough reorganization of health care is necessary .
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