Physiology of aging: essential study content in the training of Cuban physician


Physiology of aging: essential study content in the training of Cuban physician


Fisiología del envejecimiento: contenido de estudio imprescindible en la formación del médico cubano



Maricela de Armas Sáez1, Marianela Ballesteros Hernández 2

1 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Cuba. E- mail:
2 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Cuba. E- mail:



Dear editor:

Aging is a positive indicator of the achievements of health systems, as greater coverage and quality of health and social services have reduced the mortality rate and prolonged the lives of millions of people around the world. One consequence of this is that older adults now account for a larger proportion of the population compared to previous years.1,2

The number of people over sixty years of age has doubled in the world since 1980 and it is expected to reach two billion people by 2050. Developed countries first experienced this demographic transition, but nowadays population aging is observed in developing countries: Latin America stands out in this global process and Cuba does not escape the phenomenon.3

Just look around to see that the population aging rate estimated at 19,4 % of the Cuban population aged 60 and over, is no longer a cold number and takes on a face. Cuba ages and does it fast. At the beginning of 2016, it had 2 158 703 individuals in these ages and the Villa Clara Province with 179 847, of which more than 200 are centenarians; in addition, Placetas municipality is one of those with more aged people in the country.4

As a topic, never before this aspect has been given the necessary attention in the curricula of the medical career, and in particular the study of Physiology has ignored the physiological happenings that occur in the aging individual, the look has been directed at the young adult and the pathophysiology of diseases and alterations that appear many times with the course of the years.

Aging is a physiological process of irreversible changes, each individual does it differently and we must keep in mind that science already provides several theories that explain it.3 The key point is to recognize and make known that the aging organism is not necessarily sick; healthy aging is possible and many problems can be alleviated or reversed, although at this age, this issue is still controversial because it is difficult to separate the physiological from the pathological.5

The available evidence shows important morphological, physiological and psychological changes associated with age, so that the elderly people undergo a series of transformations that determine that their physiology is very different from that of the middle age people, which should imply specific adjustments in health care and supervision.6

Today the issue is real and is known, society is ready to face it, but does the doctor have a clear notion of how we age physiologically and what can we do to achieve healthy aging? After consulting the disciplinary programs and subjects of the biomedical basic sciences of the current study plan of the Medical career in the universities of medical sciences of Cuba, it is observed that the topic is not deeply treated.7

It is undeniable that doctors at this time, in particular specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine, who face the aging phenomenon of their population have the necessary scientific resources for their guidance work since an early age, that allows the course of time with the desired optimal quality and can be discerned between normal and pathological.8,9

It is for this reason that the authors consider that given the benefits offered by this curriculum, the teaching staffs could analyze the implementation of optional and elective courses on the physiology of aging, as well as the approach of the subject in the different organizational forms of teaching, as well as postgraduate courses that complement the knowledge of professionals in primary health care. The problem is present, we just need to act.


Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



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Submitted: March 27 2017.
Accepted: March 27 2017.



Maricela de Armas Sáez. Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. E- mail:

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