QS Study

Changes in the Thorax with Aging

Thorax (or chest) is the area of the body that is located between the abdomen and the neck. Within the thorax are the lungs, the heart, and the first section of the aorta. Understanding the aging process in the Thorax is necessary in order to provide optimal care to our aging population.

Certain anatomic and physiologic changes take place in the thorax with advancing years:

The rib cage becomes more rigid and loses its elasticity as the result of calcification and even ossification of the costal cartilages; this also alters their usual radiographic appearance.

The stooped posture (kyphosis), so often in the old because of degeneration of the intervertebral discs, decreases the chest capacity.

Disuse atrophy of the thoracic and abdominal muscles can result in poor respiratory movements.

Degeneration of the elastic tissue in the lungs and bronchi results in impairment of the movement of expiration.

Bones become thinner and change shape. This can change the shape of your ribcage. As a result, your ribcage cannot expand and contract as well during breathing.

The muscle that supports your breathing, the diaphragm, becomes weakened. This weakness may prevent you from breathing enough air in or out.

These changes, when severe, diminish the efficiency of respiratory movements and impair the ability of the individual to withstand respiratory disease.

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