Fab, Fit and 50: Health Concerns to Look Out For

Age increases your susceptibility to chronic disease and at fifty there are certain health concerns you should be keeping an eye on.

According to the Heart Research Institute UK, cardiovascular disease kills someone in the UK every 3 minutes and is responsible for over a quarter of deaths in the UK. Cardiovascular disease, otherwise known as heart disease occurs following a build up of plaque in the arteries and this process by which plaque builds up is referred to as atherosclerosis. Plaque or atheroma is primarily composed of fatty deposits and cholesterol, and as the plaque continues to build up, the arteries become clogged up and narrower.

As a result, the blood supply to the heart is disrupted and symptoms of tightness or a squeezing sensation in the chest appear; the sensation is known as angina and is a common symptom of coronary heart disease.  Moreover, if a part of the atheroma or plaque crumbles off it can create a blood clot, thereby placing you at a higher risk of a heart attack and more so, if it blocks the coronary artery.

Different lifestyle factors influence your likelihood of experiencing heart disease, yet the main variables are having high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. However, the British Heart Foundation acknowledges family history, age, ethnicity and sex as equally important contributing variables; subsequently, older men of South Asian descent with a family history of coronary heart disease are most at risk.

Time to Kick Out The Sugar

In a 2018 report, the World Health Organisation reported the number of people with diabetes had rocketed from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. In 2016 alone, approximately 1.6 million deaths across the globe were the outcome of diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes; type 1, determined by genetics and type 2 that is the cause of inactivity and a diet overflowing in refined sugars and carbohydrates.  In addition to increasing your chances of stroke, the lesser-known complications of diabetes are its effect on the feet and the eyes.

Diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness, as your blood pressure levels increase the blood vessels in your eyes can undergo immense damage.  Damage to the blood vessels can generate bleeding in the eye, blurred vision and thereafter a complete loss of vision, as the retina struggles to receive the blood it requires. Similarly, the limited blood flow coupled with nerve damage can have an adverse impact on the feet culminating in swelling, foot ulcers and finally, the amputation of the feet.

The common decline in physical activity with age and office based lifestyles, where the vast majority of our time is spent relying on brainpower rather than muscle power helps explains the occurrence of diabetes in older people.  After shaking the sugar off, aim for at least thirty minutes of exercise a day to combat the risk of diabetes developing.

Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

The ‘wear and tear’ element of ageing is inevitable and when it comes to mobility, it is defined by the loss of cartilage surrounding the joints, which cultivates pain and inflammation.

The hips, hands and knees are the areas typically affected; although, you can defy the effects of arthritis to your mobility with frequent exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. The Arthritis Foundation strongly recommends the inclusion of aerobic exercises such as cycling, swimming, jogging and walking at a firm pace.  Engaging in exercises in the water can elevate symptoms of pain via reducing the pressure placed on joints.

Furthermore, to ease your pain the GP can prescribe you with stronger pain killers in the form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Traditional NSAIDs consist of ibuprofen and diclofenax, while COX-2 inhibitor based NSAIDs target cyclooxygenase-2 or COX-2, the enzyme triggering the pain and inflammation.

We hope to see you teaching the head, shoulders, knees and toes in your fifties and beyond!

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