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Is the senescent heart overloaded and already failing?

, : Is the senescent heart overloaded and already failing?. Cardiovascular Drugs & Therapy 8(4): 581-587

Heart failure mainly occurs during the last decades of life, and it is important to know if the senescent heart is not an already failing heart. During aging, both contraction and relaxation of papillary muscle are impaired. Such an impairment is compensated in vivo and the cardiac output remains normal. In spite of a loss in myocytes, the heart weight/body weight ratio is unchanged, but the myocytes are bigger. Arrhythmias are permanent and are accompanied by a loss of the normal heart rate variability. Changes in specific mRNAs include: a shift in myosin heavy chain (MHC) isogene expression leading to an increased beta-MHC content; decreased densities of Ca-2+ ATPase of the sarcoplasmic reticulum, beta-1-adrenergic receptor, and muscarinic receptors; and attenuation of the Na+/Ca-2+ exchange activity. Most of these changes, but not all, resemble those observed during cardiac overload and are accompanied by an increased duration of both the action potential and the intracellular calcium transient. However, the senescent heart is still able to further modify its phenotype in response to mechanical overload. The senescent heart is a diseased heart, and the origin of the "disease" is multifactorial and includes the general process of senescence, hormonal changes, and the myocardial consequences of senescence of the vessels.


PMID: 7848894

DOI: 10.1007/bf00877412

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