• Question: As you get older over the years does your heart get bigger?

    Asked by alishan to Alex, Alison, Gavin, Helen, Miranda on 9 Jul 2012.
    • Photo: Alex Ireland

      Alex Ireland answered on 9 Jul 2012:

      This is something I learned a long time ago, so I might have forgotten bits… But I think that the heart gets bigger as you get older, but the walls of the heart get thicker so the heart has less space to fill up with blood. So your heart can pump less blood around your body as you get older. But there’s some good news – if you keep health and exercising you can slow this thickening down.

    • Photo: Miranda Armstrong

      Miranda Armstrong answered on 9 Jul 2012:

      Hi alishan. Something else that is interesting about our hearts is that in athletes, due to all of the training that they do, their hearts get larger and stronger which makes them better at pumping blood around the body. Trained athletes hearts don’t have to pump blood as often as untrained people when they are resting because their heart is able to pump more blood around the body with each heartbeat. That is why trained athletes usually have a slower pulse/heart rate at rest.

    • Photo: Alison Atkin

      Alison Atkin answered on 9 Jul 2012:

      Wow, those are two great answers. It does seem that our hearts get bigger as we get older. Unlike the athletes Miranda is talking about – where their hearts are bigger because of the muscle increase, so they are more effective. As we get older, our heart actually stretched, which is what makes it bigger. But this also makes it less effective at pumping blood, so it has to work harder. Like Alex said though, by exercising and keeping the muscles of our heart healthy we can help to slow this down and stay fitter for longer!