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‘Hypertension, diabetes are world epidemics’

What have you considered the major ailment of the elderly? I have discovered that most of the elderly will want to be 80 without the…

What have you considered the major ailment of the elderly?

I have discovered that most of the elderly will want to be 80 without the aching knee, back, without the multiple visits to the hospital. Those physical ailments that end up giving them physical disability, e.g. with arthritis of the knee that knee ends up deformed. This could become harrowing for them. They wish they can walk more quickly or even wear their high heels, but suddenly they have to walk like a child.  So they wish if they could age without having their body parts degenerate and give them those ailments, it will indeed be the golden age.  And one major ailment that will bring the elderly to the hospital is hypertension worldwide. Because as we all age the blood vessel becomes stiff and thickened and that is one way hypertension comes in. 
Why has heart attack become so common in our society?

The risk factors for heart attack will be increase in age. If you of the male sex, they have a predisposition for the blood vessels of the heart becoming narrow and having no blood flow. Because that is what causes the attack, lack of blood flow to a particular part of the heart muscle. That particular muscle becomes dead and is not able to pump blood.
Then those who smoke, may be started smoking at the age of 20 and is now 60. This means he has smoked for 40 years. This may make the heart muscles/vessels to clog. Those who have high cholesterol are also at the risk of high heart attack.
Women who use contraceptive pills for over five years are also at risk; if you use the pill that contains estrogen, then it should be used for less than five years to avoid heart attack.
Diabetes: Diabetes helps your blood vessel to age. This increases your risk of heart attack. Kidney disease: If you have kidney disease which may lead to kidney failure, and are on dialysis, you are at the risk of having heart attack. Also, those who use drugs like cocaine which can cause palsulm of the blood vessel -making them hard, these can cause heart attack.
Preventive measure that can be taken to reduce cases of heart attack.
Some of them are modifiable and lifestyle changes. For those who smoke, we ask you to stop smoking. For those who use cocaine, we ask them to desist from it, if your cholesterol is high, we ask you to do routine exercise. Cut down your weight, if you are overweight, reduce the cholesterol in your diet, we also have drugs we can use to bring down cholesterol when lifestyle medications are not helping. If you have hypertension, we make sure that we control it, to reduce your risk of heart attack. If you have diabetes, we make sure we bring it under control as well.
Is it that diabetes and hypertension cannot be cured?


They cannot be cured, but there are diseases and conditions we can control quite well. There are lifestyle strategies that we can take. E.g for a hypertensive person, reduction of salt intake, exercising regularly, routine walks for 30-40 minutes at least 4-5 times a week and also maintaining good healthy diet, good hygiene, avoiding stress, especially those that want to do 36 hour job in 24 hours.    Taking medications regularly and when there is side-effects see the doctors promptly so that the doctor will be able to change it to something else.
Why are we having more cases of diabetes?

We actually think globally it is becoming an epidemic. We are having increasing cases of diabetes especially the type 2 . The type 1 is the one you find in children were their pancreas is not producing insulin at all.  When ever we eat, whether carbohydrate, fat or protein, in what ever form is broken down to glucose, and your blood glucose goes up. If you don’t have insulin  to drive the glucose into the organs that need them like the muscles or the brain, if you  don’t have insulin to do that, then the person is diabetic. It mean your body can’t survive because the body need the glucose, if you can’t get the glucose, the person goes into coma which may lead to death. So we need a certain amount of insulin for our body function to run. For those who have the type 1 where there is no insulin at all or its minimal and is not adequate for life to be sustained, then they need the insulin injection. For those who have the type 2 we think what has brought about that is   the insulin resistant type of process. Where the insulin might be there at the early stage of the disease process, but the different cells that need to use the sugar are not sensing the insulin when it actually comes to them.  So where it suppose to act 100 percent, it is acting 50 percent. So we give something to boost that sensitivity. Exercise we also know improves that sensitivity. Those that are overweight, one of the reason we are having more type 2 diabetes could be as a result of people leaving sedentary lifestyle. People tend to drive to their offices, use the lift, sit in an Air conditioned office, and hence people are becoming less and less active. And that is what is increasing our risk of diabetes. It is becoming alarming because we are finding more type 2 in younger people. They sit and play video games for hours and all they are eating is potatoes chips, ice cream and so on. These are high carbohydrate and high sugar foods.  In appropriate eating habit has led to this as well .
Relationship between high sugar intake and diabetes.
If you already have the propensity to be diabetic, and you are  in the state where you are not processing carbohydrate appropriately, and you take a lot of simple sugar or high carbohydrate diet, it increases your risk. If your insulin level is giving you only 50 percent activity and you keep flooding it with sugar, you will eventually get to the point were your sugar level instead of being around 100 is getting to even 180 and you don’t have enough insulin to drive sugar into your tissue. So for people at the impaired glucose stage and still eat so much sugar and carbohydrate, it will transcend to full blown diabetes?  So stakeholders in the management of diabetes are trying to catch people either at the impaired glucose stage, and put in place some measures that will stop these people from getting into frank diabetes.    It has huge economic burden, not just the treatment alone but some people develop complications, which includes blindness, heart failure, kidney failure which requires dialysis, hence very expensive so it  is much better to be screened and dictated  early or even be prevented from getting there.
Life expectancy rate of Nigerians
I actually think we are going at to the upward range because we use to be in the 30. For females we are at 52, while the males are between 47-49; this is an average. In other words, some actually die before or and mostly after this age. It amazes me when I see some women up to 104 still standing tall and strong. But some of them are in the rural areas. And you wonder that is it because in those areas people are a little more active. And they don’t have some of the chronic diseases you find amongst urban dwellers. And they usually don’t go through some of the stress found in urban areas. Also, their environment is not that polluted. They also have a lot of support networks.
Diet for the elderly
They can eat anything. Eat balanced diet like any one else but in moderation. Lots of fruits and vegetables, high fiber. Because one of the thing they tend to suffer from is constipation, so high consumption of fiber such as asha, grains  and even fruits rich in fiber. Most elderly people do not tolerate milk . adult don’t digest it as much as children.
Will you advocate for a home for the elderly?

That will not be a popular thing for now. What I think they need is something like a daycare. A place where they are brought to by their children to enable them interact with other people of their age. It makes them fill fulfilled and relevant. It gets them engaged rather than sit at home and watch TV or watch the grand children play. As human beings we are fulfilled when we are relevant, engaged. And this helps to prevent dementia because you get the brain active. So that the brain cells will not die at a rapid rate.  That is another way to give them longer life.

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