It’s no news that once a person hits 40, you have to slow down and take your health seriously. That is what medical experts say. Many doctors will readily tell you that you have to go for constant medical check-ups and periodic tests are advised.
City People recently spoke to a popular Consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Lasisi Gbolade Taiwo who revealed 10 Heath Challenges every 40+ must know about and avoid.
He is the Medical Director of TAAL Specialist Hospital in Ikeja, Lagos. He specialises in Cardiovascular medicine.
According to him, there are some conditions that come with age. And majorly why they are related to age is that the body responds to injuries in various ways. Let’s say there is an injury, you expect healing to take place. But in some situations like at the cellular level, you have this injury, there will be healing, but there may not be complete healing and the injury too, might be an injury that is sustained on a continuous basis. So the body is always trying to heal.
So we call this situation a state of chronic inflammation. That means with age, there would now be problems from this inflammation. So many things can cause this state of sustained inflammation that will result in disease over time. Mostly, you are talking from age of 40 and above. And some may manifest with symptoms, some may not show symptoms. Some will come up with complications.
But let’s list 10 common diseases that people of about 40 or 45 years should watch out for.
The first on the list is Hypertension, mainly because it has no symptoms.
It is just there. And it is believed that Blood pressure increases with age. It starts picking by 40. A Quarter of all adults all over the world are hypertensive.
What makes the incidence of Hypertension, prevalent in Nigeria?
“A lot of reasons,” he explains. “Majorly diet, salt intake, family history, stress, urban life, Obesity, all these will contribute to Hypertension.
So, everybody above 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least twice a week, and if you are not hypertensive you should at least screen for Hypertension at least twice a year, meaning make sure you do your blood pressure, on 3 consecutive occasions, do it on 3 consecutive occasions at least every 6 months, if you are more than 40, because High Blood Pressure or Hypertension will not show any symptoms, so you can catch it, you can treat it and prevent the complications.
The 2nd one is Diabetes.
It is true that with age, the blood sugar will tend to increase, majorly because, the pancreas in the body is responsible for the breakdown of Glucose, as in producing Insulin that will break down Glucose.
So, with time there will be a depletion of the cells that produce insulin because of resistance, too much carbohydrate, his trying to meet up with the body demand.
It may not meet with age, therefore Diabetes prevalence rises with age and even all over the world, even in Nigeria, the prevalence of diabetes may be as high as close to 6% to 7% of all adults.
So, it is something that should be screened for, because it can show up with complications, damage the kidney, damage the heart, cause problems with obstruction of blood flow to the brain and that means that at least once a year, anybody above 40 should screen for Diabetes, have their blood sugar checked, fasting blood sugar.
What is the relationship between 2-Blood sugar and Diabetes? Can they be used interchangeably? Or does one lead to another? The Blood sugar may rise but it may not be high enough to meet the condition for Diabetes. It is a value that we use for Diabetes.
There are pre-Diabetes, it may be normal, or, it may be Diabetes in terms of meeting that condition it may be high and so we call it Diabetes.
There is also another disease we call Disorder of Blood Cholesterol.
It is also what anybody above 40 should be aware of. The blood cholesterol level that may be harmful to somebody age 40 and above, is not harmful to somebody to 30 years and below, without any risk factor.
As we age, the risk of having Heart disease and cardiovascular diseases increases. This cholesterol tends to deposit in our arteries over time, so we need a lower level in our blood. So, these are the things we should check so that we can be sure that we are within the target for our age.
So, yearly we should have the blood cholesterol level on Limpid profile which will check the Bad Cholesterol, the GON Cholesterol and we can use it to look at the target for each individual in terms of age.
On the other things that this person has. So, anybody about 40 should be aware that Blood Cholesterol can cause problems particularly in the disruption of arteries and we should make efforts to reduce and prevent this.
There is another disease called Angina.
Many don’t know about this. Let me explain this. For instance, the heart receives blood. The Heart is supplied by blood itself. When the blood supplied to the heart is impaired it causes chest pain, which we call Angina.
This Angina manifests as chest pain or chest discomfort we call it Chest discomfort. When the individual walks briskly, they will notice tightness or discomfort in their chest and they have to slow down.
In most cases, they will avoid any stressful situations and even exercises they take it easy, rather than find out why they suffer such things. It comes with effort.
In most people it comes with efforts because it limits how they can exert themselves, particularly as it affects brisk walking, climbing staircases, this is actually an indication that the arteries to the heart and narrowed by cholesterol.
And the consequences are that if this is not corrected quickly, it can lead to that attack. So anybody above 40 should be aware of that. So, if you have it, you can have it treated before it results in a Heart Attack or sudden death!
The other health problem is Heart Failure. We also know that Heart Failure’s prevalence increases with age. Worldwide in all adults, prevalence is about 1% to 2% of all Adults, will have Heart Failure. So, you can imagine.
As we age, particularly for those above 60, the prevalence may be as high as 5% to 10% of them will have Heart Failure. And that Heart failure, how does it manifest? Let me explain. That person will have what we call easy fatiguability or that person will get breathless with every little effort, like climbing a staircase, walking, they run out of breathing.
Sometimes the leg will swell, sometimes lying down may be an issue, they will have difficulty in lying down, because the fluid will gravitate to the chest. This is as a result of the heart being unable to pump enough blood, rather you will be having backflow of blood from the heart.
So this is heart failure. And anybody above 40 should screen for it. It is as deadly as Cancer. It is as deadly as Cancer, if not deadlier than Cancer because the 5 years survival rate of Heart Failure is worse than many Cancer. So we need to screen for it for us to make sure it is properly treated.
There is also the issue of Joint Disorders or Osteo Arthritis basically as a result of the knee injury.
So anybody above 40 should take this seriously. It comes with ageing, around the angle or back. Posture and a lot of these kinds of things are the cause of this trauma. So, as we age, we should take care of our joints, and make sure that they are in order.
How come in Nigeria why do the aged suffer Arthritis and knee pain?
It is a natural process. It has to do with the wear-and-tear. If you are aware you can prevent it to a large extent. You can do this by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Eat the right diet, prevent the joints from deteriorating by doing exercises, make sure you have strong bones and prevent all these things from happening.
The other health issue we need to watch out for are majorly Cancers. The Cancers that are particularly important are Cancers that can be screened and the ones that can be picked early and can be screened and the ones can be picked early and can be treated.
For example for Male, you talk about Cancer of the Prostate. That means any man above the age of 50 for example should do a PSA, yearly to screen for Cancer of the Prostate. If you do it, if it’s picked early, at least up to the age of 70, 80 you keep screening it is just a simple blood test.
You can do it every year. Once Cancer of the prostate is picked early, it can be located and a person can have a normal life expectancy.
Then, there is Cancer of the Breast for females. If picked early, it can also be treated. The recommendation is that for women that are above 40 years old, they should have Mamogramme, yearly Mamogramme to screen for cancer of the Breast because if picked early it can be treated.
There is also Cancer of the Cervix for women. All females above 25 years old are advised to do PapsSmear every 3 years until they are up to the age of 65 to screen for Cancer of the Cervix because if picked early too, this can be treated.
And the last is Cancer of the Colon, which applies to both sexes. It is to pick for Cancer of the large Colon. A simple blood test such as looking at the stool for blood or doing a Coloncospy which we look into the guts for any pre-malignant cession or anything that in turn result in Cancer. This is done every 10 years, after the age of 50.
How about Cardiovascular health challenges? Is it also part of the 10 health challenges? City People asked him.
“In terms of Cardiovascular, we can add everything together and ask the question: What are the risks of this individual for Cardiovascular disease. There is a complete risk spectrum that we can pick for that individual, starting from what is within your control, and what is not within your control.
What is not within our control means Genetics, what you inherited, do your parents have a history of Cardiovascular disease? And does it come early? If you hear this, you have to take proactive measures, to prevent it, without delay.
The others will be health issues like Hypertension, Diabetes, Obesity, Sedentary lifestyle, and others, a group of things that cause Cardivasada disease, non-communicable diseases that you can address and treat to reduce the risk of developing Cardiovascular disease over a long period of time.”
What are the mistakes that many people make that lead to the prevalence of these issues?
One of it is because these health challenges are not picked early. Sometimes when they are picked early, they don’t take medications and they don’t go for follow up.
For example, if you are Hypertensive or Diabetic you need to sit with your primary physicians and come up with the targets. What are we looking at? For so many people, once they take that drug, if it’s controlled, they will stop it. They will tell you it has become controlled.
They will stop the drug, not know this is a thing they have to continue to live with and manage. So most people will stop medication because they don’t have any symptoms from the disease itself to disturb them.
So the major thing is: holding it, taking control of it, when you have it. Then, taking medications, go for regular follow up. That is the mistake many people make. It is either it’s picked late, or even when it is picked, we don’t follow up with the medications and advice.
What role does Diet play in all these to help avoid or manage these health challenges?
The major or thing is that the diet we are talking of is what we call Diet, that is friendly to the Blood vessel, that will not leave deposition of what we call Saturated Fat. These are fats that are saturated and can get deposited in the blood vessels.
So we are talking of Diets that are low in Carbohydrate, if you are taking fats, then you should take one that is low in saturated fats, which is majorly what you will see in red meat, when you fry your food (so, you have to limit your frying), or when you take meat that is rich in saturated fat.
We tend to divide the food into 3-(1) some that you can take without Reservation, for example, Vegetables, those rich in high fibre, then fruits, (2) those you can take in moderation like cereals that are whole cereal. You can take Beans, in moderation.
What we say is take occasionally, food that has a high level of carbohydrates. There are some things I will say you don’t take, like Sugar. Avoid Sugar in any form. Avoid direct sugar in any form. Try as much as possible once you above the age of 40 to avoid this.
What does he advise that sugar is replaced with?
In most cases, I will advise you to go for a long calory sweetener. Now, there is also an organic non-calory sweetener that you can put to sweeten your drink.
The major thing is that in your diet, it should be rich in protein, low in carbohydrates and low in fat.