Research Paper on Effects of Aging and Mitral Valve Prolapse

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1613 Words
Date:  2022-12-15


Triathlon training includes swimming, cycling, and running. Aging has a significant impact on the physiology and metabolic responses of an athletic person. Having a healthy heart is vital to body functioning. Mostly, the mitral valve is related to diseases such as prolapse, regurgitation, and stenosis. This case study discusses the effects of aging on the performance of triathlon activities. The cases study also describes mitral valve prolapse condition and how it affects the performance of an aging person training triathlon.

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Effects of Aging

Impaired Immune Response

Aging leads to deterioration of the immune system because it prompts variations to be natural and adaptive immunity. The changes caused by the deteriorating immune system reduces the ability to respond to pathogens that lead to various illnesses like diabetes. Many types of research indicate that a lot of exercises promotes good health to people of less than fifty-five years old. Nevertheless, excessive training of aging people leads to fatigue. There is limited study concerning the effect of triathlon training on the white blood cells. Triathlon training may increase the risk of contracting upper respiratory tract diseases. When swimming, a triathlon trainee can be at risk of waterborne water microorganisms.

Aging is linked to decreased naive T-cells, a buildup of memory T-cells, reduced hematopoietic cells, decline in lymphoid functioning and reduced production of antibodies. Also, aging impacts the inflammatory state through increased secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and C reactive protein that can improve the damaging of tissues of the immune system. Some studies have shown that there is a general decline in immune response for some few hours after triathlon exercise (Fulton, & Varga, 2009). Triathlon training by aging athletes affects the flow of blood to the tissues to the areas where the immune cells have a high possibility of encountering infected or cancerous cells.

Cardiovascular Responses

Aging can cause cardiac injury to an athletic person during exercises. The heart functions like a muscle pump because of its expansion and contraction for it to pump blood to the right blood vessels and the whole body. The heart is divided into four parts that are controlled by valves namely, pulmonary valve, aortic valve, tricuspid valve, and the mitral valve. Triathlon training can lead to platelet and coagulation activation (Brown, 2018). Platelet activation can raise the risk of thromboembolic occurrences and also increase the development of plasmin in a training session that lasts for two hours. Both effects are activated by run-prompted mechanical stress on thrombocytes and irritation during the exercises. The most significant cardiac injury caused by triathlon training is an unexpected death. Cycling mainly impacts on the wall thickness and the cavity size of the heart.

Extreme and prolonged triathlon training involving exercises that cause blood pressure elevation may lead to increased size of skeletal muscles of the heart that resembles the symptoms of pathological arterial pressure variations. Aging leads to decreased cardiovascular functioning; thereby increasing the stroke volume and reduced heart rate that contribute to lowered aerobic ability. Research indicates that aging ironman athletes who complete triathlon displays most featured variations of the heart structure and functioning (Brown, 2018). Some of the features presented include low resting heart rate, thickened ventricular, and high or low speed of blood inflow. It is concluded that exercise and aging affect the cardiac structure and functioning of aging athletes.

Impairment in Muscle Function

Triathlon performances, especially running causes impairment of the muscle functioning that leads to muscle fatigue and damage of muscles structure. The raised affinity of acid-base imbalances causes a decrease in muscle strength. Aging leads to decreased muscle strength; hence an individual has limited abilities to perform well in triathlon performances. Significant loss of muscle strength linked to aging is an effect of reduced muscle mass. The order athletes adapt slowly to hard training than younger athletes. The challenge is that aging athletes lack a adequately planned training schedule which covers the maintenance of muscle mass in every part of their bodies. Triathlon performance decreases with age because of slow recovery, and minimum motivation to the aging group.

Aging reduces running performance due to losing skeletal muscle and fat masses. The raised mechanical stress likely impacts the reduction in skeletal muscle mass because of the unusual ways of running. Long distance triathlon exercises have a substantial impact on the skeletal muscle mass than short distance triathlon exercises (Fell, & Williams, 2008). Impaired muscle functioning and structural damage that is linked to aging can lead to greater muscle fatigue when a triathlon athlete is running. The substantial reduction in triathlon performance of athletes above fifty-five years can be endorsed to greater muscular tiredness because aging is heightened by the muscular damage that is caused by stretching and contractions repetition.

Deterioration of Lung Function

One of the factors that lead to a decline in lung functioning is aging. The fall of lung function is characterized by increased residual volume, collapsing of the airways in expiration process, decreased vigorous capacity, improper correspondence of air circulation with perfusion, inadequate mixing of the right gas, and significantly raised breathing rate. The demand for air circulation in the body increases during physical activities like triathlon training. The number of capillaries that supply oxygen in the blood from the lungs to body parts decreases with increase in age. Aging people are exposed to bacteria and virus infections because of the deteriorated immune response caused by the continuous progressive decline of ciliary functioning.

Mostly, sudden deaths during triathlon performances are caused by a continuous increase in the volume or the weight of the lungs. The large airways are more exposed to collapse in a forceful expiration due to the constant loss of cartilaginous and fibrous support. Research indicates that the alveoli of an aged person is lighter and contains more air spaces than the alveoli of a young person (Shephard, 2013). Additionally, the supporting structures of alveoli are continuously deteriorating and disintegrating. Collection of Type-four collagen and lamina causes the alveoli basement membrane to thicken. Aging lungs have reduced number of pulmonary capillaries leading to decreased functional activities.

Pulmonary arteries of an aged person are characterized by modifications in the structure of the vessel walls. The media thickens, and the intimal fibrosis increases leading to vessel elasticity loss. Blood pressure in the pulmonary artery of an aged person is higher than that of a younger adult. The decreased power of respiratory muscles and an impedance to air circulation of the lungs of an aged person may lead to an increased sensation of a provided air circulation that leads to early onset of dyspnea in an involving exercise, reduced peak of respiratory forces, and early start of tiredness.

Mitral Valve Prolapse Description

Mitral valve prolapse is a heterogeneous disorder originating from different causes that affect different parts of mitral valves. MVP is a health condition that occurs when the mitral valve of the heart fails to evenly close, but rather bulge upwards into the left atrium in a process known as prolapse. This condition makes the valve tissues to be loose and elastic, thereby inhibiting the valve from making a fitted seal and causing the valve to leak backward across the valve thereby causing murmur (Nishimura, 2015).

An individual can inherit the risk of having a mitral valve prolapse, or the condition may be caused by other health difficulties like connective tissue illnesses. A person with MVP experience symptoms like metabolism, autonomic and neuroendocrine instabilities. Other symptoms include pain in the chest, tiredness, and shivering. MVP can be caused by a previous split or dysfunction of the papillary muscle. These symptoms appear evidently when a person nears adulthood. MVP can also develop because of the limited left ventricular filling.

Effects of Mitral Valve Prolapse on Triathlon Performance

Athletes with MVP symptoms like continuous chest pain, substantial mitral regurgitation, complex ventricular arrhythmias that worsen after exercising, and family background of unexpected death should not participate in prolonged exercises. Individuals with MVP are exposed to the development of ruptured chordae tendineae because of the amount of energy that they use during activities (Carabello, 2014). My friend is 61 years old, and training for a triathlon which comprises of running for ten miles, swimming ten miles and biking for ten miles would be very strenuous for him, and because he suffers from mitral valve prolapse, he has a high possibility of developing chordae tendineae rapture that can lead to health complications.


In conclusion, aging is linked to impaired immune response, impairment in muscle function loss of respiratory functions, and cardiovascular injury. During triathlon and other exercises, aging causes limited transport of oxygen, muscular fatigue, cardiac damage, and sudden death to the aging triathlon athlete. It is also important to note that mitral valve prolapse is a heterogeneous disorder originating from different causes that affect different parts of mitral valves. Athletes with MVP symptoms like continuous chest pain, substantial mitral regurgitation, complex ventricular arrhythmias that worsen after exercising, and family background of unexpected death should not participate in prolonged exercises.


Brown, D. (2018). Death and Cardiac Arrest in U.S. Triathlon Participants. Annals of Internal Medicine, 168(10), 752. doi:10.7326/l18-0022

Carabello, B. A. (2014). Mitral Stenosis, Mitral Regurgitation, and Mitral Valve Prolapse. Cardiology Secrets, 238-245. doi:10.1016/b978-1-4557-4815-0.00031-3

Fell, J., & Williams, A. D. (2008). The Effect of Aging on Skeletal-Muscle Recovery from Exercise: Possible Implications for Aging Athletes. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 16(1), 97-115. doi:10.1123/japa.16.1.97

Fulton, R. B., & Varga, S. M. (2009). Effects of aging on the adaptive immune response to respiratory virus infections. Aging Health, 5(6), 775-787. doi:10.2217/ahe.09.69

Nishimura, Y. (2015). Mitral Valve Repair for Patients with Mitral Valve Prolapse. Journal of UOEH, 37(3), 195-202. doi:10.7888/juoeh.37.195

Shephard, R. J. (2013). Aging, Respiratory Function, and Exercise. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 1(1), 59-83. doi:10.1123/japa.1.1.59

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Research Paper on Effects of Aging and Mitral Valve Prolapse. (2022, Dec 15). Retrieved from

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