Innovation Matters
cardiology and aging populations L

Oct 02, 2016

Taking control of heart health at any age

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

The globally aging population is just in time for important advances in cardiology to potentially extend lives and make them better.

If you’re getting older along with most of the world, don’t let age justify your heart issues or set your limitations. Cardiology today has so many ways to prevent and treat heart problems -- even into your 90s. And if you’re lucky enough to be young, invest now in your long-term cardiac health. It will pay off for all of us.


Recently, we celebrated World Heart Day 2017. Philips is a proud partner of the World Heart Federation in calling for people to act now to take control of their own health and raise their awareness of heart disease and its associated risks. Our aging global population means we’ll all see an increasing prevalence of cardiac problems and a corresponding need for care. Happily, advances in cardiology offer many new ways to prevent and treat these problems. And physicians are increasingly considering overall patient satisfaction and lifestyle choices in planning that care.


That said, heart disease remains the number one cause of death globally1. It’s estimated over 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2015, representing 31 percent of global deaths – a number expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 20302.  Heart disease does not discriminate and can affect all ages and population groups. It causes 1 in 3 female deaths each year, and one million babies are born each year with congenital heart defects3. Population health initiatives are key to addressing the global situation, as are informed and robust individual actions and treatment options to help attain and retain heart health for the long haul.


Fortunately, there are growing number of opportunities to keep people living not just longer but better lives. Although an aging population means more heart disease, it also means we all have longer to manage the disease and benefit from a rapidly increasing range of life-preserving treatments. Thirty years ago, the health care industry simply wouldn’t have invested much effort toward seniors as life expectancy was shorter. But with enhanced prevention information, more diagnostic techniques and less invasive treatments, we have options that can significantly prolong the lives of people who have symptoms – and those who don’t…yet.


Here are a few of my heart health recommendations if you are in the “aging” group (whether you feel like it or not!):

  • Don’t be self-limiting through lack of exercise. It’s true that if you “don’t use it, you lose it” -- and lack of exercise can mask symptoms of heart disease. Get moving!
  • Visit a cardiologist if you have any concerns. We offer a specialized level of expertise that can identify even insidious heart issues through tests such as echocardiograms and stress evaluations. If you have a problem, your cardiologist can also recommend the latest cardiac procedures, including those supported by 3D TEE ultrasound.
  • If you have a cardiac event in your 50s or 60s, make sure you return to your cardiologist for follow-up care. Many people don’t -- but his or her knowledge and perspective is important and can help you with long-term medication adherence and lifestyle choices. Understand that once you have a cardiac event, you will never be “disease free” again.
  • Monitor and maintain the cholesterol level that is right for you. Older people with heart disease and/or who’ve had cardiac events need to maintain lower levels than the general population.


And here are key ways to get and keep a healthy heart at any age:

Quit smoking.

Eat healthy.

Watch your weight.

Stay active.

Manage stress.


Finally, realize that your heart is aging – from birth! Minimize your risk factors when you’re in your 20s, 30s and 40s, and even if you don’t have a heart condition, it’s critical to keep annual exam appointments with your primary care physician. This way, you can look forward to being among the “aging population” fortunate enough to keep going and going!


  1. World Health Organization Factsheet, July 2017:
  2. (OLD 13) American Heart Association: Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, 2017:

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Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization. From interviews with industry giants to how-to guides and features powered by Philips data, our goal is to deliver interesting, educational and entertaining content to empower and inspire all those who work in healthcare or related industries.


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Alexandra Gonçalves

Alexandra Gonçalves, MD, MMSc, PhD

Chief Medical Officer, Precision Diagnosis, Philips
Alexandra Gonçalves is Chief Medical Officer, Precision Diagnosis for Philips. Dr. Goncalves is a cardiologist with a business acumen and an extensive record of multi-disciplinary collaborations spanning the globe, as educator, author, editor, clinical researcher and though leader.

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