The Effects of Ageing on the Human Body

The Affects of Ageing on the Human Body

The word “Ageing” does not give a good feeling to most of us because of its associated problems and diseases. History is replete with the methods and potions used to stave off the effects of ageing ranging from the wooing of young virgins by King David in biblical times to other more modern theories of ‘mega’ doses of vitamin E or lamb cell injections, all in the hope of finding the fabled “fountain of youth”.
The number of elderly people as a percentage of the total population is increasing like never before.   10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old. The latest projections are for 5½ million more elderly people in 20 years time and the number will have nearly doubled to around 19 million by 2050. Within this total, the number of very old people grows even faster. There are currently three million people aged more than 80 years and this is projected to be almost double by 2030 and reach eight million by 2050. Whilst one-in-six of the UK population is currently aged 65 and over. ⁽¹⁾
Clearly, with this expansion of the elderly population within the UK, it is essential for the clinician to be able to differentiate between the normal, age-related, physiological changes in the body’s efficiency to that of illness or disease.   The inability to recognise these differences may result in unnecessary testing, misdiagnosis and mismanagement of the elderly person.
Ageing, in its broadest sense is the continuous and irreversible decline in the efficiency of various physiological processes once the reproductive phase is over. ⁽²⁾   An individual may experience these changes differently i.e. for some, the level of decline may be rapid and dramatic; for others, the changes are much more progressive and less significant but all of us will experience levels of the following effects over time, to a greater or lesser degree.
The various physiological changes which occur as we age are:
Changes in the Vascular system: