Friday, January 25, 2013

Health Scares to Watch For When Your Over 50

A medical student checking blood pressure usin...
A medical student checking blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As you get older there are more and more health concerns that you need to be aware of. It seems that the magic age averages out around the fifty year mark somehow. One minute you do not have a care in the world and the next thing you know you are getting warnings on just about every possible catastrophic event that you can think of. 

I remember when the doctor started telling me I had to get a flu shot. In prior years it was offered to me and a suggestion was made but then one day it was not an offer but a very strong insistence. When you are younger and visit the doctor they get your height, weight, and check your blood pressure. But when you get to be fifty and over they demand much more at your early checkup as well. I get chest x-rays, bone density tests, a full blood work screening, and an EKG. I am instructed to get my eyes examined, my mammogram, well woman check up, and if I actually have an ailment at this time I am sent to whatever specialist is called for


I am very thankful that my doctor is so thorough, do not get me wrong. I would rather be safe than sorry. It sure changes the way you look at life and suddenly you become your Great-Aunt Tilly who discusses every possible complication of every possible ailment. I have decided I do not want to be my Great-Aunt Tilly but I also do not want to be in the dark about possible symptoms and what they mean either. 

Visi├│n y embarazo - Hospital Oftalmol├│gico USP...
 (Photo credit: USP Hospitales)

All of us over fifty should be aware of the signs of more serious conditions without living in fear and having it be the predominant topic at the dinner table as well. Some of the things that I am acutely aware of just because they run in my family are diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and high blood pressure. There are other risks such as cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and Alzheimer’s. All these things I have just listed are at the top of the charts for those over fifty and all of them are things we should all be taking precautions about in our lives. 

Diabetes is a real concern for those of us who are older since even if it does not run in your family you are still at risk. If your diet is poor and you are over weight then you are at risk. Staying slim, not eating too many sweets, and exercising are excellent ways to prevent getting diabetes 2. Two close family members have diabetes 2, one of them has taken steps to lose weight and eat right and is being treated predominantly by pills. The other family member is over weight and does not eat like they should and have to use insulin. My understanding about this disease is that it is no respecter of persons. It deteriorates everything in your body much quicker than before and it cuts your life expectancy down quite a bit. 

Blood Pressure 365.364
Blood Pressure  (Photo credit: loonyhiker)

Blood pressure is another one that I have had a lot of experience with as well. I myself have started to have high blood pressure in the past few years. They are not even sure what causes high blood pressure. Being over-weight, being under a great deal of stress, certain medications, and heredity are a few ideas but the main thing you can do is to stay in the best shape you can and keep your blood pressure under control. Monitoring your blood pressure is very important. Some of the signs are headaches, getting flushed and feeling extremely hot, a rapid or slower heart beat can also be a sign that something is wrong. The main thing is to monitor your blood pressure, not just when you go to the doctor once a year either. If it gets out of control it can kill you, this is where heart attacks and strokes come in to play. 

My family has a history of blocked arteries or “hardening of the arteries” as it used to be called. Thus the blood flow is cut off from going in or coming out of your heart and creating a heart attack scenario. Because I know the family history of this disease I started early having stress tests and going to my mother’s cardiologist. I have seen so much suffering and surgery related to this disease that I definitely wanted to stay ahead of this one. If you have a family history or have any unusual shortness of breath, chest pains, or neck pain then you need to go have it checked out. They have so many wonderful procedures today to get the arteries unblocked before it leads to a heart attack that it is not worth waiting. This is another disease that calls for right eating and exercise. I am pretty sure that is a big key in the prevention of most diseases! 

English: Pensacola, FL, July 13, 2005 - A memb...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Strokes are something that everyone over fifty should be very aware of, even when you live through one it is often so very difficult to ever get back to a completely normal life. Often you can be left without your speech, ability to walk, and the use of a whole side of your body. I read an article the other day that if someone starts talking crazy you should have them repeat a simple sentence, lift their arms over their head, or simply stick out their tongue. If you are alone and you are feeling strange then try sticking out your own tongue or lifting your arms, if you cannot do these simple things then you need to seek help right away. If you feel confused or disoriented then let someone know! A stroke is nothing to play around with. 

Cancer is not often diagnosed quickly enough but there are precautions you can take. For women the simplest step to take is having yearly mammograms and well women exams. For men it is prostrate exams. Those things we can all do with ease. I have a friend who is adamant about yearly exams now because she skipped one year in getting hers and now she has breast cancer. Just one year can make a big difference. It is not painful and it could save your life. Do what you can to ensure that you do not have to go through the chemo, radiation, medications, and even the possible event of death. Keeping on top of your yearly exams and taking care of yourself is the greatest gift you can give to your family. 

Dreary Doctor's Office
Doctor's Office (Photo credit: TimmyGUNZ)

Alzheimer’s is another big killer that seems to be on the rise in these past few years. This is another one that they are not certain about the cause. It was said to be hereditary but lately I have seen that this is not always the case. Many people are advocating keeping active physically and mentally, others talk about diet and packaged foods and preservatives. They are finding out new things in research as we speak but none to date that tell us how to fight this terrifying villain that is Alzheimer’s. I have seen those I knew seem to vanish right before my eyes. It is not just the memory loss but their bodies begin to deteriorate as well. The brain is not communicating with the body correctly and things begin to fail. This is a frightening disease not only because of what it can do but because we do not know much about it. We need to learn so much more about Alzheimer’s and I hope it is soon. 

The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to take preventative steps and be aggressive in that prevention. Go for your annual physicals, eat right, exercise, get into less stressful environments, and know your family history so that you can inform your doctor so that they can be looking for possible problems. Do not just sit in the dark and wait for something to happen but be alert and aware and on top of your health. 


Author Bio: 

Ken Myers is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn't try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.

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