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Revista médica de Chile

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DOMENECH, Raúl J  and  MACHO, Pilar. Cardiovascular aging. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2008, vol.136, n.12, pp.1582-1588. ISSN 0034-9887.

Aging produces its own cardiovascular changes, mainly remodelling of arteries, heart and the microcirculation. These progressive changes, detected since adolescence, represent a major rísk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases. Remodelling of arteries produces a thickening of the intima-media with fracture of elastic fibers and their replacement by collagen. These alterations induce an increase of the pulse wave and aortic impedance, with greater resistance to ventrícular ejection, that in turns induces the remodelling of the left ventricle. Ventricular remodelling leads to systolic, diastolic and chronotropic dysfunctions that explain the reduced capacity of old people to increase cardiac output during exercise. These alterations together with oxidative endothelial dysfunction and somatic mitochondrial mutations in the skeletal muscle decrease aerobic capacity, especially in adults aged >70 years. On the other hand, the transmission of an increased pulse wave to microvessels, mainly of the brain and kidneys, damage these organs. There is a search for candidate genes associated to this phenotype, especially those associated with arterial structure. Atpresent no specific treatment is available for cardiovascular aging. Exercise preserves a better aerobic capacity but does not prevent its decline with age. Vasodilator drugs may decrease aortic impedance and perhaps delay remodelling. However there is no clinical evidence available to recommend these drugs in young healthy people. Finally new drugs that modify aortic molecular structure are been investigated.

Keywords : Aging; Cardiovascular physiology; Microcirculation.

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