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 Coronary Heart Diseases

Coronary heart disease is caused by contraction and obstruction of the coronary artery as a consequence of pathological changes. Cardiovascular disease is the second most rampant killer for people aged 65 and above and coronary heart disease is the largest culprit. As it usually takes a long time for the cells to develop aortic atherosclerosis, potential patients hardly display any symptoms at the early stage, even with blood vessel contraction. Nevertheless, symptoms of coronary heart disease may include:

Symptoms:
  • Angina pectoris: Patients of coronary heart disease often suffer severe compressing chest pain following strenuous exercise or emotional excitement. The pain may spread to the arms, shoulders, head and the lower jaw and may disappear after a few minutes’ rest
  • Breathing difficulty: Patients may have breathing difficulty and get tired easily because cardiac muscles cannot get sufficient blood
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack): In a heart stroke, patients may experience even acute and longer periods of heart pain. The pain may continue even after a rest or taking medication
  • Other symptoms include palpitations, dizziness, sweating, nausea and weakness of limbs, all of which call for first aid
  • Those with high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol or suffering diabetes should seek medical help as soon as possible; patients with coronary heart disease should especially pay close attention to the above-mentioned symptoms to prevent occurrence of fatal myocardial infarction

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 Stroke

In medicinal science, stroke is called cerebrovascular disease. When blood supply to the brain is reduced or blocked, brain cells will suffer anoxia and become paralyzed within minutes, causing dysfunction of the body part that the affected cells are in charge of.

Symptoms:
  • Alalia or expression difficulty
  • Sudden outburst of short periods of palsy, weakness or paralysis of the arms, feet or face
  • Sudden blurring of vision
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Difficulty in keeping body balance or maneuvering one’s hands and feet or sudden falling over unprovoked by external force
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Gatism

Transient ischemic attack may last for only a few minutes and not disable one permanently. Nevertheless, after one or several transient ischemic attacks, one should go to see a doctor immediately before a real stroke strikes.

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 Chronic Obstructive Airway Diseases

Chronic obstructive airway diseases are the general term for all conditions caused by chronic bronchitis pulmonary emphysema due to shortage of oxygen as a result of respiratory obstruction.

Symptoms:
  • Persistent cough with phlegm;
  • Asthma;
  • Fatigue and listlessness (especially in wet weather; temperature change may also worsen the condition and makes one feel even weaker).

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 Diabetes

When the pancreas fails to excrete enough insulin or when the excreted insulin fails to function properly, the level of blood sugar will increase; when eventually the excessive sugar is discharged in one’s urine, diabetes occurs.

Symptoms:
  • Constant thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Getting hungry easily
  • Loss of body weight
  • Fatigue
  • Blurring of vision
  • Wounds hardly heal
  • Skin itches or, in the case of females, itching of the private parts

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For more information, please visit Elderly Health Service 

If you have health concerns, you are welcome to visit Community CareAge Foundation for online help. You may also have access to the list of doctors of general departments and special departments of The Medical Council of Hong Kong.

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Pressure Sores

Aged people after prolonged confinement to bed or a wheelchair may suffer pressure sores, or skin ulceration, due to excessive pressure due to lack of physical exercise. Regularly changing one’s lying or sitting posture is critical for the prevention of pressure sores. The key is to maintain the normal function of muscles and tendons and ensure normal blood circulation in the four limbs.

Tips for preventing pressure sores:
  • Avoid pressure on the part of the body that is stuck out
  • Keep changing one’s lying or sitting posture, at least once every two hours
  • When moving the patient, protect his or her body from abrasions or bumps from the bed
  • Make sure chairs are appropriate for patients; if the patient is strong enough, encourage the patient to support their body for 10 seconds with their arms every 30 minutes to counter the pressure on the ischium.

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Scabies

Scabies is an infectious skin disease caused by sarcoptic mites. Any age group may suffer scabies. The elderly group, however, are an easier target due to weaker immunity. Cases of scabies are occasionally reported in hospitals, students’ dorms and nursing homes. As immunity declines with age, aged people are vulnerable to infectious disease.

Symptoms:
If you find you are displaying the following symptoms, perhaps it’s scabies.
  • Unbearable itchiness, especially in bed at night or after a hot shower;
  • Mostly scabies are distributed in between the fingers or on the wrist, elbows, armpits, nipples, lower abdomen, private parts and hips; for elders, face and scalp are less likely to be infected with scabies;
  • When sarcoptic mites encroach the skin, they will leave papules and linear traces of less than 1cm long on the skin, evidence of the subcutaneous tunnels that sarcoptic mites have dug;
  • Skin with allergic reaction to sarcoptic mites may also be covered with herpes.

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Constipation

Constipation usually begins at the age of 50. Research shows that the number of intestinal probiotics, or good bacteria, begin to reduce dramatically at the age of 55-60; after the age of 60, there’s only 1%-5% left. A shortage of intestinal probiotics can lead to indigestion and other intestinal problems.

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Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Also called prostatic hyperplasia, benign prostatic hypertrophy is a very common degenerative disease reported among mid-aged and aged males in Hong Kong. The incidence rate increases with age. According to a survey, about half of the male citizens in Hong Kong aged 50 and above are victims of prostatic hypertrophy while notable prostatic hyperplasia is observed in nearly 90% of those aged 80 and above, half with dribbling urination.

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Menopause

Females usually begin the “latter half” of their life journey at about 50, when they begin to be affected by the following symptoms: Mental strain or suppression, easily become fatigued, poor memory, poor concentration, insomnia, hot flushes, sweating and sexual dysfunction, etc.

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For more information, please visit Elderly Health Service.

If you have health concerns, you are welcome to visit Community CareAge Foundation for online help. You may also have access to the list of doctors of general departments and special departments of The Medical Council of Hong Kong.

(Source: Smart Patient – Chronic Diseases Zone and Smart Patient-Cancer in Focus)


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