HEALTH AND AGING TEXTBOOK NOTES
¾ Blood pressure is still considered normal at a reading of 130/85, but at 140/90 or greater, it is classified
¾ Systolic hypertension increases throughout life, whereas an elevation in diastolic pressure tends to
level off in later years.
¾ High blood pressure affects all the major arteries of the body and organs and tissues that they serve.
¾ One of the dangers of hypertension is that the damage of the disease occurs without symptoms.
¾ Hypertension has a number of causes, including changes in kidney function, obesity, hormonal
changes, increased sensitivity to sodium, and genetic propensities.
¾ The first step in managing hypertension is to encourage lifestyle changes such as weight control, a
decrease in sodium intake, high calcium and magnesium intake and an increase in physical activity.
¾ Although they should be used cautiously, diuretics are the first drug of choice to control hypertension.
Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis
¾ Arteriosclerosis refers to the thickening and loss of elasticity of arterial walls. Stiffened arteries tend to
be slightly contracted, raising blood pressure and leading to hypertension, which can create further
damage to the walls.
¾ Thus, high blood pressure both results from and is a cause of arteriosclerosis.
¾ The disease usually starts with an injury to the inner lining of an artery, which can be caused by
trauma, toxins, or viruses.
¾ Plaques are sticky; eventually they attract more dead cells, blood clots, and bacteria, further narrowing
the artery and creating an inflammatory process.
likely to adhere to the arterial walls.
¾ The first visible sign of atherosclerosis is a fatty streak on the inner wall of the artery.
¾ The growth of this plaque into the middle layer of the artery causes it to stiffen and weaken. With time,
the artery becomes narrower and less elastic, reducing the flow of blood to vital areas of the body
including the brain, heart, and legs.
¾ Blood clots and hemorrhaging can occur in these damages blood vessels.
¾ Risk factors for both arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis include bring male, having a family history of
the disease, smoking, a diet high in saturated fat, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and leading a
¾ Atherosclerosis process may begin at a young age, but the incidents increase with age.
¾ The primary treatment for atherosclerosis includes a decrease in dietary cholesterol and exercise, as
well as lipid-lowering medications such as the statins.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
¾ Atherosclerosis can also damage peripheral blood vessels.
¾ In peripheral arterial disease (PAOD), arteries that carry blood to the legs and feet are partially or
completely blocked by atherosclerosis, resulting in a decrease in the supply of oxygen and nutrients to
¾ Symptoms of PAOD include pain, a pale or bluish colour to the skin of the feet and legs, and a lack of
hair growth in these areas.
¾ Lack of blood flow causes severe leg pain when walking or exercising.
¾ Anything that slows the flow of blood to the legs exacerbates PAOD. This includes smoking, diabetes,
and physical activity.
¾ One of the primary ways of treating peripheral vascular disease is to encourage exercise. The person
with PAOD is encouraged to walk until limited by pain and to rest until pain diminishes. This
improves blood circulation to the area and increases muscle strength.
¾ The most important treatment for PAOD is to stop smoking.
Coronary Heart Disease
¾ Coronary heart disease (CHD) results from atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries of the heart.