Most health problems in our senior population are preventable. Also, the most frequent diseases in the population are not that deadly per se, but because of their complications. The infamous diabetes is nothing more than blood sugar metabolism disorder which can be (in most cases) reasonably easy controlled. Diabetes built up its notorious reputation because of its complications, which occur ONLY in badly regulated patients and the cures for diabetes are very limited and in most cases there are none. As you will see, lifestyle changes and physical activity are legitimate treatment options doctors often recommend. It’s surprising how much the health can be improved only by those two simple changes- and even more surprising how hard is it to build a consistent routine that includes both of them.
By the end of this article, you will find out about diseases known as “silent killers”, ways to prevent them, treat and control those conditions in order to preserve the health and quality of life in your Golden Years.
High Blood Pressure
High Blood pressure (Hypertension) is often called “silent killer” because it does not reveal itself through the symptoms but through its complications which are often fatal (stroke, heart attack). Episodes of headaches or pulsating humming sound in the ears are may be subtle signs of hypertension which are often overseen or misinterpreted as a “health problems that go with age”.
How to Prevent it
The best way to prevent hypertension is to measure blood pressure occasionally and start with a treatment before complications develop. In the senior population, as the blood vessels go through certain degenerative changes, blood pressure becomes “divergent”. It means that the systolic (higher value) tends to go up, while the diastolic (lower value) decreases. Having this in mind, what is considered as normal blood pressure among seniors? If the systolic (upper value) is above 160mm Hg, it requires treatment, and if it’s in the range 140-160mm Hg it requires follow up (measure it daily). The diastolic (lower value) blood pressure in seniors is typically quite low (in the range 60-80mm Hg) and that is considered to be normal. In cases, it goes above 90mm Hg, the medical examination should be performed. The bottom line is- as long as it’s below 140/90mm Hg you are safe. Once it goes above any of those values, it’s time to keep an eye on it regularly.
How to Treat it
The treatment of hypertension includes lifestyle and diet changes combined with medicines (if necessary). Hypertension in overweight and obese people respond very well to the body weight reduction. Avoiding salty food can help too. If the salad is salty (olives, for example) the main dish should not contain any salt at all (or just a little)! Aerobic training (known as “cardio”) is also a great way to put your hypertension under control. Keep in mind that any kind of vigorous physical activity is not a good idea, especially if you are not preconditioned to such training sessions.
Medicines are another tool you can reach for. Those are prescribed by a health professional. Keep in mind that hypertension therapy is personalized treatment, so the medicines that work very well for someone else will not, necessarily, be a good choice for you (those medicines may even cause serious adverse effects in your case!).
How to Control it
The blood pressure should be measured once or twice a day (if you are diagnosed with hypertension). Also, in case of a headache, or a pulsating hum in the ears, blood pressure should be measured. It’s the best to keep a “blood pressure diary”. Take a notebook and write down all readings. Each diary record should contain the following info:
- blood pressure value
- other symptoms (in the moment of measuring)
- other relevant info (extreme physical activity, emotional stress, etc.)
The blood pressure is measured after 20-30 minutes of rest (immediately after physical activity it may be increased and falsely interpreted as hypertension). The prescribed therapy should be taken even if the blood pressure is within the normal range.
Diabetes is another “silent killer” that can be, if not completely prevented then controlled, so it never causes serious damage to a patient’s health. It’s not uncommon for the disease to occur later in life, due to “pancreas depletion”.
How to Prevent it
When it comes to diabetes prevention- it’s all about diet. To be more precise- it’s all about avoiding sugar. Quite often, fruit is perceived as health itself, which is not true. Everything (including fruits) that tastes sweet contains a lot of sugar. So, should you eat fruit or not? Absolutely yes! But keep in mind the fruit is not a replacement for processed sugars (so it’s not recommended to, instead of a piece of cake eat two pounds of oranges or bananas!) One or two pieces of fruit a day is just enough (one or two bananas, or one banana and one orange for example). In case, you are not sure what the healthy diet looks like, ask a nutritionist for help. Well-tailored, personalized meal plan is not expensive, and it is an investment in your health.
How to Treat it
Diabetes, just like hypertension is treated with lifestyle changes and medicines. Lifestyle changes include an adequate diet and physical activity. Many clinical research studies have proved an undeniable connection between the clean eating and good blood sugar control. Quite often lifestyle changes are enough to put diabetes under control.
Unfortunately, some patients need medicines. In general, medicines used in diabetes treatment are safe and well tolerated. The only downside- it is a life-long treatment (just like in case of hypertension treatment). Even if you are taking pills for blood sugar regulation, it is highly advisable to do your best to control diet in order to avoid insulin shots.
Traverse Bay Farms
So, the general treatment plan for diabetes looks like this.
- Clean eating and physical activity
- If the above is not enough, first line medicines are added (metformin)
- If 1 and 2 are not enough, second line medicines are added (sulphonylurea class of drugs)
- If all the above fails, insulin shots are added.
The whole point of successful treatment is to progress through these phases as slow as possible because there are no good cures for diabetes.
How to Control It
There are two analyses that can tell a lot about blood sugar metabolism: blood sugar level and HbA1C.
If you want to check blood sugar level, you should fast 12 hours before leaving a blood sample. During the fast, you can drink water and unsweetened tea or coffee. The down-side of this test is it does not reveal long-term blood sugar regulation, meaning you could get a perfectly fine reading while being a diabetic.
HbA1C is a lot better way to assess glucose metabolism. It reveals the quality of blood sugar control over the past three months. It means occasional blood sugar spikes (which can happen even in healthy people) will not affect test results. Compared to the previous test, HbA1c is more expensive.
Yes, just two of the Silent Killers in our Senior population today. It is best if it can be prevented, but if you are like most people today when you are younger, you are busy working and taking care of your family. Getting regular medical checkups is put on hold until it is too late.
The good news is, even though it is not much fun, they can be treated and controlled! Just don’t let it get to the point that it can’t be controlled!!
I look forward to hearing from you! Send me your ideas of what you would like to hear more about! Comments Welcome! Wayne