Your heart beats more than 35 million times in a single year. Over the course of your lifetime, you’ll clock over 2.5 billion heartbeats. And with every beat, your heart works hard.
Your heart pushes blood into your blood vessels, throughout your body, and back with every heartbeat. It’s an essential process that keeps you alive, but your heart changes as you get older — and your risk of certain heart conditions goes up.
Kunal Patel, MD, and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute specialize in comprehensive heart care in Elizabeth, Lakewood, Paramus, and Secaucus, New Jersey. We’re here to help you understand how your heart ages so you can enjoy your best health at every age.
If you’re getting older, here are five of the most common age-related heart conditions and what you can do about them.
1. High blood pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, occurs when the pressure inside your blood vessels is too high. Your blood pressure is measured by two numbers — systolic and diastolic — and systolic pressure naturally rises with age.
An estimated 90% of people will have high blood pressure at some point in their lives. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and other issues. Fortunately, it can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication, no matter your age.
Atherosclerosis is another heart condition that gets more common with age. It develops when cholesterol and fats build up inside the walls of your arteries, hardening them and restricting blood flow. Your heart and blood vessels naturally grow stiffer over time, which can accelerate the condition.
3. Heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It includes a lot of different conditions, and many of them develop due to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Your risk of certain types of heart disease goes up as you get older. Coronary artery disease is the most common among people over age 65, and congestive heart failure occurs 10 times more often in people over age 75 than in younger adults.
Strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) occur when something blocks blood flow to your brain. A TIA is a medical emergency that requires immediate care. The most common cause is a blocked artery, often due to atherosclerosis or a blood clot.
Anyone can suffer a stroke, but unfortunately, one of the biggest risk factors for stroke is your age. Your risk of suffering a stroke nearly doubles every 10 years after you turn 55.
5. Heart attack
A heart attack happens when something restricts blood flow to your heart. Like strokes, heart attacks are serious medical emergencies.
Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart attack. Your risk goes up as you get older, and most heart attacks occur among men over 45 and women over 55.
Protecting your heart health at every age
Some age-related heart changes are unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean that heart disease and other heart conditions are inevitable.
There’s a lot you can do to maintain your heart health as you get older, and taking a proactive approach is the best place to start. Dr. Patel and our team provide comprehensive care to help lower your risk of heart problems, from medication management to lifestyle recommendations.
Get personalized care for every stage of life at NJ Cardiovascular Institute. Book your first appointment online or call the office nearest you today.