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August 23, 1995

Aging Heart Adapts to Change; Researchers Begin to Unravel Some Mechanisms Involved

JAMA. 1995;274(8):597-598. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530080013005

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ADAPTATION is the key word in the view of some researchers studying the aging heart today.

The theory is that the older heart adapts to specific deficits in performance through compensatory adjustments in its other functional characteristics.

Therefore, National Institute on Aging (NIA) researchers like Edward G. Lakatta, MD, Jerome L. Fleg, MD, and colleagues are seeking to unravel the aging heart's adaptive mechanisms. They are addressing adaptive changes in:

  • Cardiac structure and resting performance;

  • Response to acute and chronic stresses; and

  • Sympathetic modulation of cardiovascular function.

Costly to Older Persons' Health  Richard J. Hodes, MD, the NIA's director on the parent National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus, Bethesda, Md, notes that cardiovascular disease accounts for four or more of every 10 deaths among persons in this country aged 65 to 74 years.In a recent NIA booklet (NIH publication 94-3738) on cardiovascular aging, Hodes writes that "research on the

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