Aging of the respiratory system: impact on pulmonary function tests and adaptation to exertion

Clin Chest Med. 2005 Sep;26(3):469-84, vi-vii. doi: 10.1016/j.ccm.2005.05.004.


Normal aging of the respiratory system is associated with a decrease in static elastic recoil of the lung, in respiratory muscle performance, and in compliance of the chest wall and respiratory system, resulting in increased work of breathing compared with younger subjects and a diminished respiratory reserve in cases of acute illness, such as heart failure, infection, or airway obstruction. In spite of these changes, the respiratory system remains capable of maintaining adequate gas exchange at rest and during exertion during the entire lifespan, with only a slight decrease in Pa(O2) and no significant change in Pa(CO2).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena*