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Aging (Milano). 1992 Sep;4(3):183-95.

Age-related modifications in neural cardiovascular control.

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  • 1Istituto di Clinica Medica Generale e Terapia Medica, Universit√† di Milano, Italy.

Abstract

Integrated cardiovascular responses to a range of different stimuli, as well as the overall, spontaneously occurring variability in blood pressure and heart rate, undergo complex changes with aging. A general trend is that homeostatic control mechanisms lose part of their ability to modulate heart rate and to buffer the concomitant blood pressure variations; the two phenomena are possibly linked by a cause-effect relationship. A detailed analysis of the age-related changes in the major reflex systems reveals a clear-cut impairment in arterial baroreceptor control of the heart rate, but much less pronounced changes in its control of blood pressure, on the other hand, both the hemodynamic and humoral components of the cardiopulmonary reflex appear to be markedly attenuated. The experimental evidence of the mechanisms underlying these changes is still largely incomplete, and it appears that the gaps will have to be filled by a systematic, detailed analysis, i.e., that no generalizations or extrapolations will be possible. Indeed, the data available so far indicate that the age-related alterations are highly non-uniform, some functions undergoing a definite impairment but others being much better preserved and some being even enhanced; thus aging is by no means associated with a generalized decline in cardiovascular functions and should instead be viewed as a complex, highly selective process. These peculiar biological features of the aging phenomena merit further investigation in both the cardiovascular and the other organ systems, in order to verify the possibility that currently unrecognized homeostatic potentials in the elderly subject may be exploited to advance his/her clinical management in health and disease.

PMID:
1420402
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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