More Fat, Less Specialized Cells in Old Heart

Rhonda Witte, BSc

Many alterations occur within the cardiovascular system with age. Structural changes can be noted through the pathological examination of aged hearts. The identification of such changes has helped us better understand the aging process. Research is also being conducted to reveal the changes in the aging heart at the cellular level.

Young adult heart (left) with the aging heart (right)

Growth and Structural Changes

Dr. Jagdish Butany of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at The Toronto Hospital, General Division, outlined findings about age-related growth and structural changes associated with hearts of otherwise healthy, physically inactive persons over 65 years of age. In an interview, Dr. Butany stated that there does not appear to be any age-related changes at the ultrastructural level. Age-related changes can, however, be noted at the microscopic level.

Cardiac Valves

As one ages, changes in the valves are noticeable, particularly those concerning the aortic and mitral valves. An increase in the thickness of the aortic and mitral valves can be seen from decade to decade.