Written by Joe Fleming
Many seniors want to take care of their health and prolong their lifespans. But, they don’t always know what signs and symptoms they should be looking out for.
There are a number of totally preventable diseases that seniors suffer from without even knowing it. When these diseases go untreated for too long, they become difficult to manage and can lead to serious disabilities and even death. Because of this, these diseases are often referred to as “silent killers.”
Read on to learn more about three of the most common “silent killer” diseases and the symptoms that seniors (and caregivers) should be aware of.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is one of the most well-known “silent killer” diseases out there. Approximately 75 million adults in the United States suffer from hypertension, and the likelihood of developing it increases as you age.
Elevated blood pressure is a precursor to hypertension, but, other than that, the disease usually does not come with any symptoms. The only way to know if you’re affected is to test your blood pressure regularly.
A blood pressure monitor — also known as a sphygmomanometer — is a great tool to have on hand. Check your blood pressure regularly and keep an eye out for a reading that is greater than 140/90 mmHg. If this reading consistently comes up, talk to your doctor about ways that you can lower your blood pressure.
It’s also important to cut back on behaviors and limit situations that increase your risk of developing hypertension, including the following:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
- Using birth control pills
- Frequently consuming painkillers
Approximately 371 million people all over the world have diabetes. But, according to the International Diabetes Federation, half of them don’t know it.
This lack of knowledge is what has branded diabetes as a “silent killer” — it’s no wonder health experts are calling diabetes one of the world’s fastest-growing health issues.
Common symptoms of diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst and hunger
- Sudden weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Frequent urination
- Sores and cuts that are slow-to-heal
Some people are genetically predisposed to diabetes, but lifestyle factors like obesity, a lack of exercise, and a poor diet also contribute. A poor diet is especially problematic, as it can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes that occurs when the body is no longer able to use insulin to remove sugar from the bloodstream.
Seniors, especially those who are overweight or obese, should be on the lookout for signs of diabetes. They should also have their blood sugar checked regularly.
- Coronary Artery Disease
Also known as CAD, coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. CAD occurs when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries and prevents blood from efficiently flowing through them. Over time, this plaque buildup can weaken the heart muscle and lead to heart failure.
Like hypertension, coronary artery disease usually does not come with any obvious symptoms. Some people experience chest pain or shortness of breath as a result of CAD, but many people don’t know they have the disease until after they’ve had a heart attack.
To avoid finding yourself in this position, it’s important to have regular check-ups from your doctor. This is especially true if you have a history of CAD in your family. Other people who face a great risk of developing CAD include:
- Those who are overweight or obese
- Those who eat a poor diet
- Those who smoke
- Those who a sedentary
To minimize your risk of developing CAD, you should focus on cleaning up your diet, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly. Your doctor may also prescribe medications that reduce your CAD risk.
People of all ages should be on the lookout for signs of and risk factors that contribute to these three “silent killer” diseases.
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to these diseases, and they are more likely to have a difficult time managing their condition. Because of this, they should keep this information in mind and be extra vigilant about maintaining their health and minimizing disease risk factors.