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Live long and lively

October 21st, 2015

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Live long and lively

Many people wish to live long, but many also wish they don’t, because they are afraid they will be in an unhealthy condition and be a burden for their children. It is not enough to try to live longer – you should also consider your own health and happiness.

As we all know, the older we get, the less healthy we become. In bad health, we can feel depressed and lose hope in leading a good life. The loss of hope is in turn another source of bad health. Also, many couples who have lost their spouse also feel depressed and unhappy about their lives. It is common to see people joining their deceased other half soon after.

A research published in a medical journal studied about 2,300 people. The average age of this group was 72 years, and the research began 25 years before. These people are now over 90 years old.

At present, out of the 2,300 people, only 970 of them are still alive. At a closer look, it was found that smoking, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure were to blame for their deaths.

On the contrary, the living ones were reported to exercise regularly (in age-appropriate manners) and this could help reduce fatality rate by 30%. However, a person with two or more of the conditions mentioned above could have increased risks.

Interestingly, those who live beyond 90 and do not have chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or coronary disease. They also have a good quality of life.

The study found that smoking not only takes years off your life, but will also result in bad brain condition while living.  That is you will be more likely to have Azheimer if you smoker.

 

Many of my patients want to live long, but the truth is they are afraid of death. On one hand, they are afraid that they will develop incurable diseases or get attacked by a lot of illnesses. Some want to live longer to do more good deeds. Some want to enjoy the hard-earned wealth they have struggled for when they were younger.

A patient of mine was about 80 years old. His left leg was weak and he could not walk well. He was in a wheelchair when he came to see me.  He had a longstanding history of diabetes, but nothing else was wrong. After a brief check-up, I found that he had narrowed coronary artery and old myocardial infarction, which was common for a person this age with diabetes.  More than half of people with diabetes usually have heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) without any symptom. However, the condition of this patient was not too bad. It could easily be treated with medicine and controlling risk factors.

I had a chat with him later and this is our fun conversation.

Me:       You’ve lived a longstanding life!

Patient: What did you say? I couldn’t quite catch it.

Me:       I said you’ve lived a longstanding life.  (Really, what I wanted

to tell him is that despite of diabetes and an old heart attack,

his health is not in a bad shape at all for his age.)

Patient: Oh, no, I can’t.

Me:       Why not?

Patient: My leg is weak. I can’t stand very well.

It took me a while to understand that he had hearing problems. He thought I wanted him to stand up to examine his health!

Prof Nithi Mahanonda is consultant cardiologist and interventionist, Perfect Heart Institute.

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