The Geriatric Cardiovascular System

Data regarding the cardiovascular system of older adults is slightly limited, due to the fact that older people are usually not included in clinical trials. However, enough research has been done to identify common physiological changes in the geriatric cardiovascular system, such as: increased heart weight; decreased number of myocardial cells with enlargement of remaining cells; increased left ventricle wall thickness; increased arterial stiffness; increased elastin levels; increased collagen levels; increased left atrium size; decreased aortic dispensability; and decreased vascular tone. This causes decreased diastolic pressure (during initial filling of the heart); decreased diastolic filling; decreased reaction to beta-adrenergic stimulus; …show more content…
Respiratory muscle strength decreases with age, making effective airway clearance much more difficult, making older adults much more susceptible to infection (Goodwin and Sharma, 2006). Alveolar dead space also increases with age, reducing the amount of arterial oxygen. Degeneration of elastic fibers around the alveolar duct result in enlargement of air spaces. Changes in the lungs effect each individual person’s exercise ability differently. How well a person is able to exercise with age depends on their physical fitness and individual level of physical activity. Aging is also associated with a reduction in chest wall compliance and increased air trapping, which effects men much more than it does women. Due to a limited respiratory reserve and diminished ventilatory response, ventilatory failure during high demand states (such as a heart attack or pneumonia) is more probable in older adults. One of the most important safety precautions in the elderly regarding respiratory illnesses is prevention. Standard precautions should be followed by all staff and personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn. Teaching patients to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing, especially around others, should be taught. Proper hand washing technique should be taught to all patients to prevent the spread of …show more content…
This leads to an increased need for these substances in older adults. Most older adults lead a sedentary lifestyle, which decreases their caloric needs. A decrease in total calories is needed to maintain a healthy weight. This can be challenging due to the fact that older adults have decreases sweet and salty receptors, making them inclined to add sugar and salt to already seasoned food. Poor fitting dentures, or natural tooth loss, may make it difficult for an older adult to eat, making it challenging for them to have adequate intake of nutrients. It may make them more inclined to eat softer, sweeter foods such as ice cream, pudding, or jello. This may lead to vitamin deficiency, weight gain, and constipation. Constipation can lead to pain, anxiety, reduced quality of life, and decreased social activity. A more severe consequence of constipation is a bowel obstruction. They can be small or large, but both are painful and potentially life threatening. It is important to teach older adults to increase their fluid and fiber intake and exercise regularly. Encourage them to eat 35-50 grams of fiber a day, and to drink at least 2 L of fluid a day (Ignatavicius, 2010). A “colon cocktail” is also a common drink among the elderly. It is a mixture of prune juice, apple juice, and Metamucil. A stool softener may be required if the cocktail is not effective. Due to many older

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