The increase of life expectancy together with the decline of birth rates implies a global aging of populations living in
industrialized countries. Since advanced age is associated with an exponential consumption of health care resources, this phenomenon is
likely to pose a substantial threat to the stability of public health systems. Prevention of physical disability represents a major public
health priority. Since disability is considered an irreversible condition, every effort should be made to prevent the onset of the disabling
cascade and/or delay the physical function decline. The need for strategies against disability has led researchers to look for the most
relevant risk factors potentially determining or accelerating the disabling cascade. In this context, cardiovascular and respiratory
conditions have been indicated as playing prominent roles in the determination of frailty. Moreover, the high prevalence of these
conditions among older persons makes them particularly amenable to targeting for preventive interventions. The aim of the present
review is to show the impact of cardiovascular and respiratory conditions on physical function. Moreover, we will discuss the
relationship of these conditions with the disabling process, and the importance of their assessment in the design of preventive
interventions against disability in older persons.
Keywords: Cardiovascular conditions, respiratory condition, elderly, physical exercise, physical activity.
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