Common Heart Conditions That Affect Aging Individuals

As individuals age, the risk of developing various heart conditions increases. Several common heart conditions specifically affect older adults, ranging from those related to the structure of the heart to issues stemming from the blood vessels.

Understanding these conditions is crucial for early detection, proper management, and prevention strategies. Our team at Vivage Beecan, offering long-term care options, is sharing information to help you promote a healthy lifestyle.

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Among the most common heart conditions affecting older adults, hypertension is characterized by elevated blood pressure levels. As people age, arteries can stiffen, causing blood pressure to rise. 

While it is common, uncontrolled hypertension can be serious and is a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other complications. It is also important to note that individuals with hypertension may not experience symptoms, so the only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get your levels checked.

Lifestyle changes, medication, and regular monitoring are essential in managing this condition.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

This condition occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked due to plaque buildup. In older adults, CAD can manifest with symptoms like chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, or even heart attacks. 

Lifestyle modifications (such as a healthy diet and regular exercise) and medications help manage CAD, while severe cases may require procedures like angioplasty or bypass surgery.

Heart Failure

Often associated with aging, heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “This can happen if your heart can’t fill up with enough blood. It can also happen when your heart is too weak to pump properly.” 

Heart failure might develop gradually over time, leading to symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling in the legs, and difficulty performing routine activities. Treatment involves medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes medical devices to assist the heart's function.


Older adults commonly experience irregular heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, which can cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is particularly prevalent among older individuals and increases the risk of stroke and other heart-related complications. 

Management may involve medications to control heart rate or rhythm, blood thinners to prevent clotting, and occasionally procedures like cardioversion or ablation.

Valvular Heart Disease

Heart valves may become damaged or stiff over time, affecting blood flow within the heart. Conditions like aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve) or mitral regurgitation (leakage of the mitral valve) are common. Symptoms might include chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, or heart murmurs. Treatment ranges from medications to valve repair or replacement surgeries.

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) 

Older adults are at increased risk of PAD, which occurs when narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs, most commonly to the legs. Symptoms include leg pain, numbness, or weakness while walking, restricted mobility, changes to the skin on the legs (such as decreased skin temperature or thin, shiny skin), and paleness when legs are elevated. 

Lifestyle changes, medications, and, in severe cases, procedures such as angioplasty or bypass surgery can help manage PAD.

Aortic Aneurysm

As individuals age, the aorta, the body's largest artery, can weaken and develop bulges (aneurysms), particularly in the abdomen or chest. Aortic Aneurysms can be asymptomatic but pose a risk of rupture, leading to life-threatening internal bleeding. Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include dizziness or lightheadedness, rapid heart rate, and sudden, severe chest pain, abdominal pain, or back pain.

Monitoring and, if necessary, surgical intervention are essential to prevent complications.

Prevention and management of these common heart conditions involve lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, managing stress, quitting smoking, and monitoring other health conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol. Additionally, regular check-ups and screenings with healthcare professionals play a vital role in early detection and intervention.

Understanding the risks associated with aging and the potential impact on heart health is crucial for older adults and caregivers. Creating a proactive approach to heart health through healthy habits and routine medical care can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals.

At Vivage Beecan, our long-term care options make it convenient to find the Right Care in the Right Place at the Right Time. Learn more about our communities and how we can help you or a family member promote not only heart health but overall wellness by visiting our website or contacting a member of our team.

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