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Chapter: Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology: The Vascular System

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Aging and the Vascular System

It is believed that the aging of blood vessels, especially arteries, begins in childhood, although the effects are not apparent for decades.

AGING AND THE VASCULAR SYSTEM

 

It is believed that the aging of blood vessels, especially arteries, begins in childhood, although the effects are not apparent for decades. The cholesterol deposits of atherosclerosis are to be expected with advancing age, with the most serious consequences in the coro-nary arteries. A certain degree of arteriosclerosis is to be expected, and average resting blood pressure may increase, which further damages arterial walls. Consequences include stroke and left-sided heart failure.

 

The veins also deteriorate with age; their thin walls weaken and stretch, making their valves incompetent. This is most likely to occur in the veins of the legs; their walls are subject to great pressure as blood is returned to the heart against the force of gravity. Varicose veins and phlebitis are more likely to occur among elderly people.

 

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