There are 4 diseases you either currently have or are at a higher risk of getting than Covid-19 as an older adult. The health and economic impact are felt world-wide amid the current global pandemic. Covid-19 has brought the world to it’s knees, and the fear of contraction/infection and complications run wildly out of control. While there are legitimate concerns there are other pandemic proportioned diseases you are currently facing and they are getting worse possibly because of the actions you are or aren’t taking right now.
All of these 4 diseases make getting covid more likely and worse. By addressing these diseases head-on, right now will be the best strategy for coping and dealing with this and every other virus and pathogen that comes along.
1. Heart Disease (coronary artery disease)
According to the CDC, is the leading cause of death in the USA! That includes men, women and most races! One person dies every 37 seconds due to heart disease. In 2017, coronary heart disease-which is the most common type of heart disease, claimed 365,914 lives. The numbers have only gone up since then. As of this writing, this number which grows each year is still higher than the global death count for covid-19. Covid will go away, but heart disease is getting worse.
How do you ‘contract’ heart disease?
Here are some risk factors that can lead to heart disease:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- excessive alcohol usage
- physically inactive
- poor nutritional food choices
The CDC also says that just about half (47%) the US adult population have the first 3 risk factors.
There is hope! When you look at this list of ways you contract heart disease the conclusion should be a refreshing blast of cold water on the face. They are all preventable. You have 100% control of these risk factors. You’ll notice that genetics didn’t make the list. Your lifestyle choices have a greater effect on your risk for getting heart disease. You don’t have to wait for a vaccine, you just need to take small actions right now to reverse the damage. Sitting on the couch watching the news 24/7 worrying about a virus is only progressing this more deadly disease.
While obesity was listed as a risk factor for heart disease, it warrants it’s own category as a disease. Obesity has been classified by the CDC as a pandemic…just like COVID19. Do you remember when that announcement happened? They (CDC) said it Oct 26, 1999. They reiterated it Nov 22, 2013 and again on Dec 7, 2017. Yet the CDC announces another pandemic in Jan 2020 and the world gets an overhaul.
Obesity is preventable. Obesity puts you at higher risk for just about every other disease and illness. Between 2017-2018 the prevalence of adults in the US classified as obese-not overweight-we’re talking obese was 42.4%. Almost half of all adults were obese! Obesity has increased by 11.9% during a 10-year period, with an increase from 4.7-9.2% of severe obesity! To speak in common vernacular, this is essentially saying that this disease has a 42% infection rate and continues to increase in it’s spread-ability.
Obesity is the leading cause of premature and preventable death. Time magazine recently used the CDC data and maps to show the growth of the girth of the US population. Genetics can’t be blamed for this contagion.
While there are genetics at play, lifestyle is the biggest factor in addressing this disease. The summation of simple choices to move, exercise, eat more fruits and veggies will become a mountain of health rather than a mountain of mass.
3. Cognitive Disease (dementia, Alzheimer’s)
Globally, the number of new dementia diagnosis was 9.9 million in 2015. That’s a big number, but the really scary news is that these numbers are 30% HIGHER than what models predicted they would be in 2010, just 5 years earlier.
Many mistakenly believe that losing your mind to cognitive illness is normal as you age. This is NOT a normal part of ageing. There is a wide range to cognitive diseases from Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) all the way to Alzheimer’s. Regardless of where on the spectrum you might be, the effects are debilitating and devastating.
Vascular dementia is one of the most common types of cognitive illness. Simply put, it’s long-term brain blood starvation. That’s one major reason exercise has a preventative effect against dementia because exercise increases blood flow throughout the body-including the brain. The key here is consistency. One bout of exercise each month will not be enough. But adhering to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for physical activity will be the closest thing you can get to a vaccine right now.
Another ‘pill’ you can take to help manage/cure this disease is what we call cognitive agility and dual-tasking. Cognitive agility is where you challenge the brain with a processing task (memory, computation, etc) introduce a reaction element where you have to move your body. Dual-tasking is very similar and is a hot area of research currently for senior fitness.
Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscle mass and function. According to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders in 2017 revealed that a substantial proportion of older adults have sarcopenia, even in healthy populations. We lose about 1-2% of our muscle each year around our 50’s. by mid-60’s this doubles in rate.
Loss of muscle mass means loss of strength, ability to move, an inability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), and ultimately independence. Sarcopenia also effects bone density and other fitness/wellness markers. Essentially, sarcopenia is the virus that starts the cascading effect of other more well-known diseases.
Just like the other diseases listed, sarcopenia is preventable and even reversible with proper strength training in the right intensity, frequency, and duration. Researchers have found that older adults can gain muscle and strength at any age, including into your 90’s!
While we still have to wait for a vaccine for covid-19 we already have the vaccine for heart disease, obesity, cognitive illness, and osteoporosis at our finger tips. You have the ultimate power. You don’t have to sit and wait, actually you must stand and move and create the change you want. We are here to help in any way we can. We are committed to ending all four of these global pandemics.