There are several cardiovascular parameters that change with the normal aging process in both animal models and man, which may affect the response to exercise. Although the aging process is associated with normal resting contractile function, diastolic properties are altered resulting in reduced and delayed early left ventricular filling and an enhanced atrial contribution to end diastolic volume. Exercise cardiact output is maintained in healthy elderly individuals, however, there is a shift from reliance on an increase in heart rate and decrease in end systolic volume to use of the Frank-Starling mechanism to increase stroke volume. This age difference in the cardiovascular response to exercise is probably mediated by an age associated decreased responsiveness to beta-adrenergic stimulation.
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