“Older age is a disease itself “
This quotation hits so true when it comes to mind, along with medical facts & logic. It is a well-known quotation that ” Infants & elderly people reflects so much resemblance with one another.”
The main reason behind this resemblance is that when a new life opens his eyes in the world, his body doesn’t function fully & properly, metabolism is slow & immunity is quite weak. The newborns are so much susceptible to catching an infectious disease. Their skin is fragile & needs time to make adaptations with the environment.
Getting older is the same process in which the body becomes irreversibly weak with slow metabolism & low immunity power. Survival becomes more struggling & challenging. They are at risk of getting a different type of disease as compared to young ones.
10 chronic disease in elderly people:
It is reported that 80& older adults have diagnosed with one chronic disease & 68& of the total adult population has suffered from more than one chronic disease. Here is a list of top 10 chronic diseases that are reported by the national council on aging & it is mentioned in correlation with its percentage of existence in older adults.
- Hypertension (58%)
- High cholesterol (47%)
- Arthritis (31%)
- Ischemic heart disease ( 29%)
- Diabetes (27%)
- Chronic kidney disease (18%)
- Heart failure (14%)
- Depression (14%)
- Dimentia & alzhiemer’s disease (11%)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (11%)
The topmost chronic disease that finds people with old age is hypertension. Hypertension gives birth to other diseases related to the cardiovascular system. There are two types of hypertension
Hypertension is defined as the condition in which tension or stress is being produced by narrowing of blood vessels that result in the restriction of blood flow & consequences of this hypertension are increased blood pressure. This raised blood pressure is responsible for other medical issues & pathologies elated to the CVS system such as
- High blood pressure produced by hypertension damage the blood vessel & cause hemorrhage.
- If this blood is thick. it can also form clots in arteries & small veins
- This high blood pressure disturbs the overall function & efficacy of heart.
- The more ever the indirect effect of high blood pressure is to damage kidneys as kidneys are provided by regulators to maintain this blood pressure
Hypertension is a slow & progressive disease that can be controlled at its acute stage by taking proper measures & steps. Individuals with a careless attitude towards diet & physical inactivity have more chances to be at risk of becoming hypertensive with older age. Therefore it needs to be realized that you start monitoring your health status from a young age. Some tips are mentioned here to help you in preventing yourself from this chronic condition
- Reduce the intake of salt.
- Make a habit of brisk walking to increase cardiac output.
- Minimal use of alcohol & smoking at a younger age will show positive results on your health in older age.
- Avoid the use of chilled water, drinks & food items in daily life as it will constrict the blood vessels & prepare the body to be a victim for upcoming hypertension.
Treatment of hypertension is done by medications coupled with a lot of precautions & changes in lifestyle. The choice of medicines varies from one individual to another. Antihypertensives agents are prescribed to lower blood pressure. Diagnosis of any other causative agent like a high LDL level may add some more medications as per requirement.
2. High cholesterol level:
The second topmost chronic condition in older adults is the high cholesterol serum level in the body. Indirectly it is connected with many other troubleshooting pathologies for other body organs. It is confirmed by the lipid profile test that shows undesirable ranges of low-density lipoprotein,
High cholesterol level is not a good sign for the overall health of the body. It disturbs the function of the cardiovascular system by damaging the blood vessels. Complications associated with high cholesterol level are mentioned as follows:
- Low-density lipoprotein sticks to the arteries causing atherosclerosis that block the flow of blood.
- If this fat deposition occurs in a coronary artery that supplies blood to heart, then it may cause chest pain.
- It may result in a stroke or a heart attack.
Precautionary or preventive measures are taken to avoid the occurrence of disease. These steps work well at a younger age as you protect yourself before the disease shows some prominent signs or symptoms. it would help if you made mentioned below changes in your lifestyle
- Limit the intake of fat-based diet like oily food, animal fats, etc.
- Say no to smoking.
- Moderate the intake of alcohol.
- Eat a balanced diet with a good proportion between carbs—protein & fat.
Treatment involves the use o medicines prescribed by doctors to lower the level of cholesterol & changes mentioned above in lifestyle. Moreover, its treatment demand to lost weight in the case of patients with obesity & drink plenty of water with a healthy diet based on fresh fruits & vegetables as it will boost metabolism.
Arthritis that is inflammation in the joint is the third most leading chronic disease that is found in adults. Arthritis is also associated with swelling & tenderness of joints. Arthritis worsens with older age & colder climate. There are two common types of arthritis.
- Osteoarthritis: It is associated with the breakdown of cartilages
- Rheumatoid arthritis: It is associated with the breaking of the lining of tissue by an autoimmune disorder.
Other types of arthritis like psoriasis or lupus ae caused by other different causes or underlying disease like gout etc.
Treatment strategies for arthritis aim to overcome the pain, restore the mobility of joints & to prevent the damage of joints. The treatment plan varies from person to person according to the severity of the disease. Treatment includes
- Diet control,
- Patient counseling,
- Physical & natural therapies.
4. Ischemic heat disease:
Ischemic heart disease is a medical condition that is associated with discomfort & chest pain that takes place due to an insufficient supply of blood to the heart. It is synonymous with coronary heart disease. The cause of ischemic heart disease is narrowing of blood vessels due to vasoconstriction or being blocked due to atherosclerosis
Ischemic heart disease is directly influencing the normal physiology of the cardiovascular system. It may prove risky if remain untreated & may lead to a set of serious & life-threatening complications which are mentioned as follows
- Myocardial infarction.
Treatment strategies of ischemic heart disease have two plans that include pharmacological management & treatment by surgical procedures like angioplasty & bypass surgery, in the case of pharmacological treatment different choice of drugs like ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, etc., that are available that are prescribed by evaluating the medical status & severity of the disease.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition that refers to high blood glucose levels. It is a metabolic disease that raises the blood sugar level. It occurs due to impaired insulin level or impaired functioning of insulin which is a hormone responsible for converting extra glucose into glycogen & store it in the liver or adipose tissues. Diabetes is of two types.
- Type 1 diabetes: It is associated with autoimmune disturbance in which the immune system attacks its cell beta cells of the pancreas that release insulin. The reason behind it is still unknown.
- Type 2 diabetes: It is associated with resistance of body fo insulin. The insulin levels are normal in type 2 diabetes, but it cants identify its receptors to bind & proceed with its function.
Diabetes mellitus is a serious disease that may worsen with increasing age; It can affect multiple organs like heart, liver & kidney. Diabetes needs to be taken in a serious concern otherwise it will be prone to cause some serious complications that are mentioned as follows
- CVS discomfort
- Foot damage with unhealed sores & infections
- Skin infections
Treatment of type 1 diabetes is done by giving synthesized insulin as the body is deficient in insulin due to its low or no production. Performs its functions by lowering the blood glucose level. Insulin is of several types like rapid-acting insulin, slow-acting insulin, etc. & it’s prescribed according to the need of patients
Type 2 diabetes is treated by using medications that are oral hypoglycemic agents that work like insulin but differ in structure & pattern of action.
6. Chronic kidney disease:
Chronic kidney disease is a serious medical condition that refers to renal failure or kidney failure in which the kidney stops working—also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). It is the damage that lasts to kidneys & becomes so worse so that the kidney stops working & needs dialysis for survival. An alternate option is a kidney transplant.
Damage to the kidney is irreversible & permanent that cannot revert back. It is very difficult to fix kidney damage; however, it can be treated with the goal to protect the kidney from further damage. The underlying reason that causes kidney damage needs to be identified & should be treated with the right choice of medications & precautions, along with a restricted diet.
7. Heart failure:
Heart failure or congestive heart failure is a condition associated with the improper functioning of the heart. Muscles of the heart fail to pump blood either due to any blockage or due to the narrowing of arteries. The heart becomes too weak & its efficiency becomes too low.
Heart failure may have more than one risk factor. Although one risk factor is enough to cause heart failure but in case of multiple risks, chances & complications of heart failure increase. Risk factor for heart failure are mentioned below
- High blood pressure.
- Coronary artery disease.
- Diabetes mellitus.
Heart failure is a chronic condition that needs lifetime pharmacological management. Treatment can be done with medicines or surgical procedures. Identification of the exact underlying reason for heart failure decides the pattern of treatment for the doctor or cardiologist.
Depression is a mood disorder & associated with feeling down or hopeless. Depression is elated with mental health & may occur due to many reasons like stress, a load of work, financial o any academics stress & so on. Depression interferes with routine activities, work-life & career plans as well as created hurdles in focusing & concentration.
Symptoms of depression vary with age as well as it depends on gender & severity too. some most common symptoms of depression are mentioned as follows
- Extreme sadness.
- Feeling of guilt.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Mood swings.
- Weight loss.
Depression is related to mental health; therefore, it needs slow & progressive treatments with counseling by a psychiatrist. Treatment of depression is slow, continuous & needs patient cooperation & response. Treatment plans include
- Light therapy.
9. Alzheimer disease:
Alzheimer’s disease is a slow & progressive disorder that degenerate brain cells. It gives rise to dementia. The signs associated with Alzheimer’s disease are forgetting the recent events & moments, impaired memory & continuous decline in brain function & ability.
Complications of this disease are quite serious, which makes the treatment & management of this disease very difficult. As Alzheimer’s disease continues to progress towards its last stages, it makes the situation worse & worst. the person suffering with it becomes unable to
- Communicate or explain his feelings.
- Describe symptoms.
- Corporate with doctors & family.
Alzhiemer disease is irreversible & uptill now no proper cure has been discovered.
10. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or ( COPD) is a group of progressive pulmonary diseases related to the heart. Most common of them are emphysema & chronic bronchitis. In the majority of cases, people suffer from both of these diseases. Emphysema destroys air sacs in the lungs, whereas chronic bronchitis is constriction & inflammation of bronchiole tubes. Both conditions cause difficulty in breathing & impaired function of lungs.
COPD affects the lungs first. So the early sign & symptoms associated with it is difficult in breathing. Symptoms become constant with the further progression of the disease. Early symptoms of COPD include
- Shortness of breath.
- Recurrent cough.
- Throat needs to be clear from time to time.
- Chest congestion.
- Lack of energy.
- Flu or respiratory infections.
Treatment helps to give relief from symptoms & prevent further complications. Treatment plans have the following choices that are decided by your respiratory therapist & health care team for the best & effective results. These treatment plans may work singly or in combination with one another.
- Oxygen therapy.
Here you are being addressed with the top 10 chronic diseases along with the basic information & treatment plans. One thing that needs to mention is that these diseases share some common risk factors & are directly or indirectly related to one another. Precautions & prevention need to be followed by individuals from a younger age so that the body may have the least chance of suffering from any of the above mentioned chronic diseases in older age.
A student of Pharm D from University of Karachi. She has keen interest in all the attributes towards pharmacy especially community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy with an objective to make medications sound and safe. She loves to provide information about Pharmaceutical Analysis and Pharmacology in a best way so people with no medical background can understand.