THE most common time for people to visit their GP is during retirement because, as we age, we are prone to more ailments.
The Sun on Sunday’s GP, Dr Jeff Foster, said: “There are patterns of when people tend to see their doctor — during pregnancy and baby checks, for vaccinations and infant illnesses, but most commonly after they retire.
“Advances in medical treatments mean we are living longer but, during later years, many experience the onset of complex medical problems that can really affect their quality of life.
“It is down to our DNA not being perfect, the progressive battering on our bodies over the years from lifestyle choices, the environments we live in and general wear and tear.
“When our work routine disappears, we often notice problems for the first time.
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“But this does not have to be a depressing problem.
“We now understand how and why we age much better than we used to. And it is never too late to make changes or go for GP checks that could give you a better quality of health for longer.”
Today Dr Jeff explains how tweaks to your lifestyle may prevent problems in the. . .
THE average age of a first heart attack is 65.5 years for men and 72 for women.
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Symptoms include central crushing chest pain, shortness of breath, heart racing, feeling like you will pass out and sometimes vomiting.
But not all people, women in particular, present with all the symptoms.
Cardiovascular disease occurs because damage to the lining of our arteries leads them to narrow and cut off the blood supply, resulting in a heart attack.
Plan ahead: Blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes contribute to narrowing of our arteries.
THE average onset age is 71.4 years in men and 76.9 for women. There are two types: ischaemic (where the blood supply is cut off), and haemorrhagic (where a blood vessel bursts).
We typically use the acronym FAST for spotting either:
Face weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
Arm weakness: Can they raise both arms?
Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you are saying to them?
Time to call 999 if you see any of these signs.
THIS is a broad term that applies to any one of a large number of diseases characterised by the development of abnormal cells that divide and grow in an uncontrolled way.
These cells destroy normal tissue and function.
In the last few decades our understanding of the condition and how to treat it has improved significantly and we are now finally at a stage where more people survive a diagnosis of cancer than die from it.
Plan ahead: A few cancers are just down to bad luck, such as testicular cancer.
Not smoking can significantly reduce lung cancer, bowel, prostate and ovarian risk. Reducing alcohol and obesity can reduce risk of breast cancer. Attend NHS screenings for breast, bowel and cervical cancer.
THIS a progressive neurological condition characterised by slow movement, muscle stiffness and shaking.
The severity varies from person to person. About five in 1,000 people in their 60s and about 40 in 1,000 people in their 80s have it.
The exact cause is not known. There is a very small link to genetic factors.
Plan ahead: Stay physically active. There is very good evidence that those people who are more physically active, strong and healthy are less affected by Parkinson’s.
ONE of the things many elderly people fear is the onset of dementia.
This is a group term that covers several disorders of the brain that result in loss of memory and cognition, and the ability to function day to day.
The most common of these is Alzheimer’s disease. It affects about six per cent of people over 75 and increases to more than ten per cent after 80.
Plan ahead: Risk factors include smoking, cholesterol and high blood pressure, because blood flow reduction to the brain over time will worsen dementia.
Have cholesterol and blood pressure checks with your GP.
Being physically active and treating your brain like a muscle helps too. Look at cognitive stimulating hobbies such as music or art to try and keep hold of precious neurons.
A CATARACT is where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and blurs vision.
About one in 23 people over 65 has them but, when mild, most don’t realise it. However for some, the loss of vision is so severe they need surgery.
Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve at the back of the eye and affects vision.
Normally fluid in the eye regularly drains itself away, keeping eye pressure stable.
With glaucoma, the outlet mechanism becomes damaged, causing a rise in pressure, nerve damage and vision loss.
It is often easy to treat but, once the vision is lost, it is almost impossible to get it back.
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Plan ahead: In addition to a healthy lifestyle, always wear good quality sunglasses as UV rays can increase your risk.
Have yearly eye tests whether you feel you need them or not.
Health red flags you shouldn’t ignore
From strange body odours to key signs of cancer in men, here are health red flags you should never ignore: