Couple holding hands

Good day colleagues,

As people in our forties, I would like to share a few medical tips to help us age gracefully and be able to stay around for a while longer, enough to take care of our families and businesses. 

We are at a stage in our lives where cardiovascular diseases are very prevalent but silent. Diseases like hypertension, diabetes and high blood cholesterol levels are very common in this age group. Unfortunately, they usually go unnoticed until they have done irreparable damage to our organs.

Such complications include kidney failure, heart failure, stroke, diabetic foot gangrene and limb amputations, etc. These complications will usually allow you to hang around for a while albeit in misery and penury.

Others are lucky or should I say unlucky and die suddenly from heart attacks, strokes and diabetic hyperglycaemic coma etc. ‘Lucky’ because, at least you don’t get to be bedridden and a burden to your family and friends. 

A note of caution, my dear friends; be wary of obesity! I have seen too many of such people die suddenly in early age without warning. If you are looking too fat with a very big tummy and still drinking alcohol, you may be sitting on a time bomb! Hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol levels thrive in such bodies. Sudden deaths or painful complications are not too far away and you must act to avert them. 

The issue of cancers such as breasts, cervical, prostate, colon, stomach etc also start or may have started already by this age. Most of these cancers don’t give any symptoms at all in the initial stages when they are curable. By the time you become aware of their presence, you probably only get palliative care. It is, therefore, imperative to actively look for them through screening. 

Finally, about 50% of men in this age group develop some form of erectile dysfunction, mostly weak and unsustainable erections putting severe strain on relationships. You may also notice that you are urinating frequently especially at night at this age. This is usually part of the aging process but may be symptoms of underlying diseases. You need to seek help from the right source!

What do we have to do then?

1. Exercise regularly especially if you are obese. Thirty minutes to one hour brisk walk three to five times a week will do you a lot of good. 

2. Avoid overindulgence in alcohol and other vices. They only initiate or worsen a lot of the problems above. 

3. Have your Blood Pressure checked at regular intervals, say three or six monthly and stick to the treatment prescribed by your doctor if you are diagnosed of hypertension. Some men stop taking their drugs because they tend to affect their sexual function only to develop strokes! Seek advice from your doctor.

4. Check your fasting blood sugar levels regularly just like your BP.

5. Avoid fatty diets and eat more fish than red meat.

6. Avoid the temptation of listening to quacks who promise to cure your hypertension and diabetes. These are not curable diseases. At least not for now! Get help from the right sources.

7. The men are encouraged to do annual PSA screening and the women should undergo cervical and breast cancer screening regularly. They don’t cost much to do.

8. Stool and urine routine examinations once a year to check for presence of blood. Most of the cancers can be picked up this way.  

The life expectancy of the average Ghanaian is 65 years while the average Japanese lives up 85 years!

In deed, don’t even be complacent about your chances of living up to 65 years! Most people go home far sooner than that here.

However, you can live far beyond 65 years if you will take responsibility for your own health. Do not leave anything to chance!

A word to the wise,…..

Written by:

Dr Kwaku Addai Arhin Appiah

Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine and Dentistry, KNUST.

Urologist, Kings Medical Consult and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital

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