बुढ़ापे में बीमारियों का जमघट...! Aging increases risk of many diseases

Author : Dr. P. D.GUPTA

(Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India)


Aaging itself is not a disease but it is a risk factor for many diseases. Due to long uses of organs there is a wear and tear and therefore these organs do not function as efficiently as they work in young age, That doesn't mean you will have an age-related disease, it just means you are more likely to experience the  conditions mentioned below, as you get older.

Over the years by the time you are “old enough” you are exposed and accumulated beyond thresh hold limits, the toxic substances/ effects of many internal (physiological processes like inflammation), and external such as, environmental exposure to pollutants and radiation (like ultraviolet radiation from the sun and electromagnetic waves from wi fi signals and TV towers, etc), the effects of lifestyle factors like smoking, diet and fitness levels, as well as simple wear and tear, can all accelerate the rate of decline in different people depending on their life style.

Age-related diseases are illnesses and conditions that occur more frequently in people as they get older, meaning age is a significant risk factor. 

1. Heart and blood vessels

 Heart disease is the number one killer world-wide, and among the leading causes of death. The most common form is coronary artery disease, which involves a narrowing or blockage of the main arteries supplying the heart with blood. Obstructions can develop over time, or quickly—as in an acute rupture—and cause potentially fatal heart attacks.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Blood pressure is the force blood exerts on the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps. It's lower when you're sleeping or are at rest, and higher when you're stressed or excited — though it tends to rise generally with age. Chronically elevated blood pressure can cause serious problems for your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other systems in the body.

2. Brain and nerves

Cerebrovascular Disease (Strokes): A stroke happens when blood stops flowing in one area of the brain because of a disruption in one of the blood vessels. It is very serious because brain cells deprived of oxygen in the blood begin to die very quickly. There are two types of strokes. The most common is called an ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel suppling to the particular part of the brain. The second type is called a hemorrhagic stroke and is caused when a blood vessel ruptures and bleeds in the brain.

Strokes can cause death or serious disability, depending on the location and severity of the blockage or rupture.

Parkinson's disease: Named after the British physician who first described it in the early 1800s, this progressive neurological disorder causes tremors, stiffness, and halting movement. Three-quarters of all cases of Parkinson's disease begin after the age of 60, though age is only one risk factor. Men are more likely than women to get PD, as are people with a family history of the disease—or those who've been exposed to certain chemical toxins. Head injuries may also play a role.

Dementia (including Alzheimer's disease):  Characterized by a loss of brain functioning, dementia can manifest as memory loss, mood changes, confusion, difficulty communicating, or poor judgment. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, but there are a number of other causes, including vascular dementia (due to impaired blood flow to the brain), Huntington's disease, and dementia associated with Parkinson's disease. While the incidence of dementia increases with age, it is not considered a natural part of the aging process.

3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cannot be cured, but it can be treated, and perhaps more importantly, prevented. The condition is characterized by a reduction of airflow into and out of the lungs, thanks to inflammation in the airways, thickening of the lining of the lungs, and an over-production of mucus in the air tubes. Symptoms include a worsening, chronic and productive cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The main cause of COPD is chronic exposure to airborne irritants like tobacco smoke (either as a primary smoker or second-hand), occupational contaminants, or industrial pollution. Cigarette smoking remains the most significant risk factor.

4. Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a disorder that disrupts the way your body uses glucose, or sugar, from the food it digests. In Type 1 diabetes, which typically begins in people under the age of 30, no insulin is produced. The far more common Type 2 diabetes involves sufficient insulin—but an acquired resistance to it—so glucose is not processed properly by the body. Both types of diabetes lead to blood sugar levels that are too high, which can lead to serious problems like heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, kidney failure, and blindness.

Thanks to rising rates of obesity, along with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and inadequate nutrition, Type 2 diabetes is on the rise. Fortunately, adopting healthier habits like regular exercise, and eating a well-balanced diet, can keep blood glucose levels in a normal range, and prevent declining health.

5. Bone-related

Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs more commonly as people age, and it's more prevalent in women. Being obese or having had a prior joint injury also makes you more susceptible.

Characterized by swelling and pain in the joints, osteoarthritis cannot yet be cured, but it can be treated with pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory medications, as well as through lifestyle modifications like weight loss, exercise, and physiotherapy.

Osteoporosis: Also known as "brittle bone disease," osteoporosis is characterized by bone mass loss, which leads to thinning and weakening bones. It gets more common with age, especially in Caucasian and Asian women. Having osteopenia, or low bone density is also a risk factor. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, as many as half of all women over the age of 50—and a quarter of men in that age group—will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Bone breaks like hip fractures are a very serious problem for older adults, resulting in a loss of mobility, independence, and in about a quarter of all cases, death within a year of the injury.

Regular weight-bearing exercise, eating a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D, and not smoking can all help prevent osteoporosis.

6. Eye  related

Cataracts: A cataract is a progressive cloudiness in the lens of your eye, resulting from a number of factors, including exposure to ultraviolet light, smoking, and diabetes. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, half of all people over the age of 65 have some kind of cataract. Initially, you may not notice a cataract, but over time vision can become blurred and much reduced. Cataract surgery may be recommended to remove and replace the lens. Years ago, such surgery required several days' recovery in the hospital; now, it can be performed as an outpatient procedure, often in about an hour.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD):  Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common condition in adults over the age of 50, is the most common cause of blindness in older people. As the macula of the eye progressively deteriorates, so does a person's ability to see objects clearly in the center of his field of vision, though peripheral vision is usually preserved. Age is one risk factor, but so is smoking, race (Caucasians are more susceptible than African-Americans), and family history. Though the role of certain lifestyle habits is not fully understood, researchers believe that limiting tobacco use, regular exercise, maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and eating an anti-aging diet rich in colorful vegetables and fish will all help prevent AMD.

7. Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is common with advancing age, thanks to the deterioration of tiny hairs within your ear that help process sound. It can mean simple changes in hearing, too, such as having difficulty following a conversation in a noisy area, having trouble distinguishing certain consonants (especially in higher-pitched voices), certain sounds seeming louder than usual, and voices seeming muffled. Several factors in addition to age, such as chronic exposure to loud noises, smoking, and genetics, can affect how well you hear as you get older. About half of all people over the age of 70 have some degree of age-related hearing loss.

8. Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells can be from anywhere) grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body. One of the biggest risk factors for many types of cancer  is age. There are more than 100 types of cancer. Types of cancer are usually named for the organs or tissues where the cancers form. For example, lung cancer starts in the lung, and brain cancer starts in the brain. Some categories of cancers that begin in specific types of cells, such as Carcinoma(epithelial cells), Germ Cell Tumours (sperm or eggs), Melanoma(  melanocytes present  In skin and intraocular melanoma, present in the eyes). More common like, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma (plasma cells) are from blood. (The author has his own study and views)