Common medical conditions affecting older Aussies

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Aussies today can expect to live longer than ever before. Once they make it to 65, the data suggest that they can live another 19.6 years if they are men or 22.3 years if they are women. For many, then, senior living includes carefully managing chronic conditions in order to stay healthy. It’s important to learn about and understand the common conditions and treatments available. Some of the most common chronic diseases affecting older people are:

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes a range of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. The term ‘cardiovascular disease’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘heart disease’. Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease. Learn more about different types of heart conditions here: Heart Conditions

Cancer and other neoplasms

Cancer is a disease of the body’s cells. Normally cells grow and multiply in a controlled way, however, if something causes a mistake to occur in the cells’ genetic blueprints, this control can be lost. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled way. These abnormal cells can damage or invade the surrounding tissues, or spread to other parts of the body, causing further damage. The most common cancers in Australia (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) are prostate, breast, colorectal (bowel), melanoma and lung cancer. These five cancers account for around 60% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia. Find out more about cancer here: What Is Cancer?

Neurological conditions

The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. It regulates and coordinates body activities. If neurons are damaged, the result is often a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, stroke or multiple system atrophy. There are more than 600 recognised neurological conditions which vary in the type of symptoms experienced, and the acute, chronic, remissive or degenerative nature of the condition. Here are a few common ones: Neurological Central Nervous System

Musculoskeletal conditions

Musculoskeletal conditions are conditions of the bones, muscles and connective tissues. Common musculoskeletal conditions include various forms of arthritis, back pain and problems, osteoporosis and gout. 29% of Australians reported arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions in 2017-18, which is around 7 million people. Read more about musculoskeletal conditions here: Musculoskeletal Conditions Overview

Respiratory diseases

Chronic respiratory conditions, of which asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are most common, are thought to affect more than a quarter of the general population of Australia. It can be difficult to distinguish COPD from asthma because the symptoms of both conditions can be similar. However, there are some important features that distinguish typical COPD from asthma. People with COPD continue to lose lung function despite taking medication, which is not a common feature of asthma. Learn more about respiratory conditions here: Chronic Respiratory

Other helpful resources:

Seniors health
Common conditions affecting the elderly
Seniors health

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