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Physical Changes with Aging

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Presentation on theme: "Physical Changes with Aging"— Presentation transcript:

1 Physical Changes with Aging
Observations Regarding Senescence Racquel Daley-Placide, MD Clinical Assistant Professor Division of Geriatrics The University of North Chapel Hill

2 AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! US Census Bureau Data for US population of adults age 65 and older 1990  30 million 2030  70 million 2050  96 million

3 Doh! “Chronologic age is not an accurate predictor of physical condition or behavior” Sue Saxon & Mary Jean Etten, Physical Change & Aging

4 Rather, Physical condition seems to be driven by: Lifestyle choices
exercise nutrition stress management Genetics Environment Robert Redford at age 64

5 Our Objective Distinguish between “normal aging” and pathologic changes Describe changes observed in various organ systems.

6 Cells The cells of the elderly (regardless of when they last underwent mitosis) look the same as young cells. However, old cells do not withstand a variety of challenges quite so well as younger cells. = Homeostenosis


8 Theories of Aging Programmed Aging Theory
Hayflick Phenomenon Telomere shortening Somatic Mutation Theory/Error Theory Wear & Tear Theory Cross-linking Theory Free Radical Theory/Accumulation Theory Immunological Theory

9 Who Knows……

10 Note Well…. We can’t possibly cover everything today
There is a lot of controversy surrounding pathophysiology of changes

11 Observed Changes in the Heart
Deposits of the "aging pigment," lipofuscin, accumulate. The valves of the heart thicken and become stiffer. The number of pacemaker cells decrease and fatty & fibrous tissues increase about the SA node. These changes may result in a slightly slower heart rate. A slight increase in the size of the heart, especially the left ventricle, is common. The heart wall thickens, so the amount of blood that the chamber can hold may actually decrease. The heart may fill more slowly. To compensate, elderly subjects demonstrate a doubling of percent atrial contribution to filling.

12 EFFECT OF CHANGES Under normal circumstances, the heart continues to adequately supply all parts of the body. However, an aging heart may be slightly less able to tolerate increased workloads. Examples of stressors include: illness, infections, emotional stress, injuries, and extreme physical exertion.

13 Observed Changes in the Vessels
Blood vessels Arteries thickening & stiffening in the media of large arteries is though to be caused by collagen cross-linking smaller arteries may thicken/stiffen minimally; their ability to dilate & constrict diminishes significantly Veins age-related changes are minimal and do not impede normal functioning

14 Observed Changes in the Vessels
The aorta becomes thicker, stiffer, and less flexible. This makes the blood pressure higher resulting in LV hypertrophy. Increased large artery stiffness causes a fall in DBP, associated with a continual rise in SBP. Higher SBP, left untreated, may accelerate large artery stiffness and thus perpetuate a vicious cycle. Circulation. 1997;96: Baroreceptors (stabilize BP during movement/activity) become less sensitive with aging. This may contribute to the relatively common finding of orthostatic hypotension.

15 Observed Hematologic Changes
A decrease in total body water is observed with aging. Blood volume therefore decreases. The number of red blood cells (and correspondingly, H&H) are reduced, but not significantly. Most of the white blood cells stay at the same levels, but lymphocytes decrease in number and effectiveness.

16 Observed Hematologic Changes
Overall, cell counts and parameters in the peripheral blood are not significantly different from in young adult life. However, the cellularity of the bone marrow decreases moderately. For example, 30% cellularity on an iliac crest biopsy (which would be very low for a young adult) is not unusual in an older person.

17 The Immune System

18 Age and the Immune System
The efficiency of the immune system declines with age, but this is variable among persons. Nonspecific defenses become less effective The ability of the body to make antibodies diminishes. Autoimmune disorders are increased in older adults. Not everyone believes that the increased incidence of autoimmune disease is an expected part of aging. but all acknowledge the increase in findings of positive rheumatoid factor, anti-nuclear antibody, and false-positive syphilis screens in healthy older adults. The thymus gland (which produces hormones that activate T cells) atrophies throughout life. The peripheral T-cells (J. Immunol. 144: 3569, 1990) proliferate much less exuberantly in old age.

19 The Result…. Common infections are often more severe with slower recovery & decreased chances of developing adequate immunity.

20 Take a Deep Breath…….

21 Observed Changes in the Lungs
The number of cilia & their level of activity is reduced. Glandular cells in large airways are reduced. Decreased number of nerve endings in larynx. The cough reflex is blunted thus decreasing the effectiveness of cough. Decreased levels of secretory IgA in nose & lungs  decreased ability to neutralize viruses. The number of alveoli do not change significantly.

22 Observed Changes in the Lung
The number of FUNCTIONAL alveoli decreases as the alveolar walls become thin, the aveoli enlarge, are less elastic. Decreased elasticity of the lungs may be due to collagen cross-linking. The loss of elasticity accounts for "senile hyperinflation"; unlike in smokers, there is little or no destruction of the alveoli.

23 Now in Russian…. The FEV1 drops by 30 mL/year during your adult life
VC is diminished by about 20% RV increases by about 50%

24 Observed Changes in the Lungs
Combine less functional alveoli with slightly thickened capillaries  decreased surface area available for O2-CO2 exchange  lower O2 to supply vital organs, especially in setting of acute respiratory illness.

25 Observed Changes in the Lungs
The respiratory muscles lose strength & endurance. There is increased stiffness of chest wall (ie, decreased compliance). Pulmonary vasculature becomes less elastic, pulm artery thickens & enlarges  increased resistance to blood flow in lungs  increased pulmonary artery pressure.

26 Another Breather…..

27 Observed Changes in the Kidney
Renal blood vessels become smaller & thicker reducing renal blood flow. Decreased renal blood flow from about 600ml/min (age 40) to about 300ml/min (age 80) Kidney size decreases by 20-30% by age 90. This loss occurs primarily in the cortex where the glomeruli (# of gloms decrease by 30-40% by age 80) are located. Decreased GFR. Typically begins to decline at about age 40. By age 75 GFR may be about 50% less than young adult. Current research shows that this is not true for all elders, however.

28 Observed Changes in the Kidney
There is a decline in the number of renal tubular cells, an increase in tubular diverticula, & a thickening of the tubular walls  decreased ability to concentrate urine & clear drugs from the body. Overall kidney function, however, remains normal unless there is excessive stress on the system.

29 The Bladder & Such….

30 Observed Changes in the Bladder & Such….
The muscular ureters, urethra, & bladder lose tone & elasticity. The bladder may retain urine. This causes incomplete emptying. Decline in bladder capacity from about mL to about 250ml  less urine can be stored in the bladder. This causes more frequent urination. The warning period between the urge and actual urination is shortened or lost as one ages.

31 Let’s see Those Muscles!!!

32 Observed Changes in the Musculoskeletal System…..
Muscles Sarcopenia (↓ muscle mass & contractile force) occurs with age. Some of this muscle-wasting is due to diminished growth hormone production (NEJM 323: 1, 1990), but exactly how much is due to aging versus disuse is unclear. Sarcopenia is associated with increased fatigue & risk of falling (so may compromise ADLs). Sarcopenia affects all muscles including, for example, the respiratory muscles (↓ efficiency of breathing) & GI tract (constipation).

33 Observed Changes in the Musculoskeletal System…..
Bone/Tendons/Ligaments Gradual loss of bone mass (bone resorption > bone formation) starting around age 30s. Decreased water content in cartilage the “wear-&-tear” theory regarding cartilage destruction & activity doesn’t hold up as osteoarthritis is also frequently seen in sedentary elders. Decreased water in the cartilage of the intervertebral discs results in a ↓ in compressibility and flexibility. This may be one reason for loss of height. There is also some decrease in water content of tendons & ligaments contributing to ↓ mobility.

34 Yummy, Yummy, in my Tummy…

35 Observed Changes in the GI Tract
Some sources claim that one can expect atrophy & decrease in the number of (especially) anterior (salty/sweet) tastebuds, but this is controversial NEJM 322: 438, 1990 Basal and maximal stomach acid production diminish sharply in old age. At the same time, the mucosa thins. Very little seems to happen to the small bowel (J. Clin. Path. 45: 450, 1992) Decline in number of gastric cells  decreased production HCL (an acidic environment is necessary for the release of vitamin B12 from food sources) Decrease in amount of pancreatic enzymes without appreciable changes in fat, CHO, or protein digestion. Diminished gastric (eg pepsinogen) & pancreatic enzymes result in a hinderance to the absorption of other nutrients like iron, calcium, & folic acid. Hepatic blood flow, size & weight decrease with age. Overall function, however, is preserved, but may be less efficient in the setting of drug overload. Decreased tone in stomach & intestines result in slower peristalsis  constipation.

36 Hmmm….The Nervous System

37 Observed Neurologic Changes
There is neuronal loss in the brain throughout life (the amount & location varies). J. Ger. 47: B26, 1992. Loss is chiefly gray matter not white matter there is some evidence that although some neuronal loss occurs with age, many neurons have ↑ dendrite growth which may (at least partially) compensate for neuronal loss in some areas of the brain. Slowed neuronal transmission Changes in sleep cycle: takes longer to fall asleep, total time spent sleeping is less than their younger years, awakenings throughout the night, increase in frequency of daytime naps Sense of smell markedly decreases

38 Observed Neurologic Changes
The lens of the eye loses fluid and becomes less flexible, making it more difficult to focus at the near range. Dry eyes

39 Skin and Hair……

40 Observed Hair Changes Men: Women
men loose the hair about their temples during their 20s hairline recedes or male pattern baldness may occur increased hair growth in ears, nostrils, & on eyebrows loss of body hair Women Usually do not bald, but may experience a receding hairline hair becomes thinner Increased hair growth about chin & around lips

41 Observed Toenail Changes
Become thicker & more difficult to cut Grow more slowly May have a yellowish color

42 Observed Skin Changes - Epidermis
The number of epidermal cells decreases by 10% per decade and they divide more slowly making the skin less able to repair itself quickly. Epidermal cells become thinner making the skin look noticeably thinner. Changes in the epidermis allows more fluid to escape the skin.

43 In Between The rete-ridges of the dermal-epidermal junction flatten out making the skin more fragile and making it easier for the skin to shear. This process also decreases the amount of nutrients available to the epidermis by decreasing the surface area in contact with the dermis. = slower repair/turnover

44 Observed Skin Changes - Dermis
These changes cause the skin to wrinkle and sag. The dermal layer thins Less collagen is produced The elastin fibers that provide elasticity wear out. ↓ function of sebaceous & sweat glands contribute to dry skin

45 Observed Skin Changes – SubQ
The fat cells get smaller This leads to more noticeable wrinkles and sagging

46 A Note about Sun Worshipers….
Solar elastosis  rough, leathery looking skin with wrinkles, irregular pigmentation, plaques, broken blood vessels & actinic keratosis Due to repeated overdoses of sun exposure.

47 Endocrine Changes

48 Endocrine System Because the endocrine system is so complex & interrelated it is difficult to discern the effects of aging on specific glands

49 Age-Related Changes in the Endocrine System
In most glands there is some atrophy & decreased secretion with age, but the clinical implications of this are not known. What may be different is hormonal action.

50 Age-Related Changes in the Endocrine System
Hormonal alterations are variable & gender-dependent Most apparent in: glucose homeostasis reproductive function calcium metabolism Subtle in: adrenal function thyroid function

51 Age-Related Changes in the Reproductive System
Women The “climacteric” occurs (defined as the period during with reproductive capacity decreases (ie, ovarian failure) then finally stops = loss of estrogen & progesterone; FSH & LH ↑↑). This is also described as the transition from perimenopause (~age 40s) to menopause. thinning & graying of pubic hair loss of subQ fat in external genitalia giving them a shrunken appearance ovaries & uterus decreases in size & weight skin is less elastic + loss of glandular tissue gives breasts a sagging appearance other physical changes may include hot flashes (can cause sleep deprivation if they occur at night), sweats, irritability, depression, headaches, myalgias. Sexual desire is variable. The symptoms are typically present for about 5 years atrophy of vaginal tissues due to low estrogen levels = thinning & dryness occurs; agglutination of labia majora & minora may occur.

52 Age-Related Changes in the Reproductive System
Men Testosterone decreases, testes become softer & smaller Erections are less firm & often require direct stimulation to retain rigidity Though fewer viable sperm are produced & their motility decreases, men continue to produce enough viable sperm to fertilize ova well into older age. Less seminal fluid may be ejaculated they may not experience orgasms every time they have sex the prostate gland enlarges; this often results in compression of the urethra which may inhibit the flow of urine.

53 Stay Active…..

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