Dr Ratul Banerjee explains the difference between the hearts of young and old

What is the difference between the heart of young and old?

Dr Ratul Banerjee explains the difference between the hearts of young and old

Heart Health:  Young Vs Old

Heart in very young people

The heart is generally healthy in very young people with all the muscles of the heart receiving appropriate blood flow, heart valves working in perfect rhythm as well as strong heart muscles pumping blood to the entire body for oxygen and nutrients. However, some young people can suffer from congenital heart defects (CHDs).1

CHD is a type of heart disease that is usually caused by birth defects in the heart. It is present at birth in most children. CHDs in children include problems with the heart valves, incompletely formed left side of the heart, and disorders that involve holes in the heart, usually in the walls between the chambers and between major blood vessels leaving the heart.1

Other heart conditions that children and teenagers are most likely to suffer from are fast heart rate, inflammation in the blood vessels, infection of the membrane that surrounds the heart, and bacterial and viral infections affecting the heart.1

Heart in young people

A normal, healthy adult heart is about fist size. The heart runs your body like a car's engine. Each side of the heart has an atrium and ventricle (ventricle). The right side pumps deoxygenated blood to the lungs. The left side pumps oxygen-rich blood through the body's arteries. An electrical system in the heart controls heartbeat and chamber contractions.2

Younger people are much less likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke, heart disease, or heart failure.2 However, as a person ages into adulthood, with a sedentary lifestyle and improper diet, the heart's blood vessels become damaged or diseased, as well as the valves start becoming narrow or leaking. These changes can cause coronary artery disease, valve disease, or cardiac rhythm disorders.2,3

The heartbeat is controlled by a pacemaker system that is built into the heart. Some of the ways this system works may lead to the buildup of fibrous tissue and fat. Some of the cells in the sinoatrial or SA node, which is the heart's natural pacemaker, die as we age. Because of these changes, the heart rate might slow down a little bit.4

Heart in old people

Heart disease is also a major cause of disability. It makes it hard for millions of older people to do things and lowers the quality of their lives. Over many years, fat builds up in the artery walls, which is a major cause of heart disease.2

As you get older, your heart can't beat as fast as it did when you were younger, even when you're working out or feeling stressed. The most common change that comes with getting older is arteriosclerosis, which is when the large arteries get stiffer.2

This leads to high blood pressure, which happens to more and more people as they get older. Atherosclerosis is more likely to happen if you have high blood pressure and other risk factors, like getting older. Plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, which cuts off blood flow to the heart muscle and leads to heart disease. The heart muscle can weaken and/or get hurt over time, which can lead to heart failure or a heart attack.2

(Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. Please consult a qualified doctor before taking any decisions regarding recommendations in the article or for more information.)

References: 1. Types of Heart Disease in Children [Internet] [Updated May 11, 2017]. Available at: Accessed on Sep 3, 2022. 2. Heart Health and Aging [Internet] [Updated Jun 1, 2018]. Available at: Accessed on Sep 3, 2022. 3. Adult Heart Disease [Internet] [Updated Apr 2018]. Available at: Accessed on Sep 3, 2022. 4. Aging changes in the heart and blood vessels [Internet]. Available at: Accessed on Sep 3, 2022.


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