How to live to a ripe old age

Posted in , by Echelon Health

Most of us would like to live to see old age and enjoy it in good health with our friends and family.  This then prompts the question of what we need to do if we want to give ourselves the very best chance of old age?  Perhaps the easiest way of answering this question is to turn it on its head and ask what will prevent us from reaching old age.  After all, we will all reach old age eventually if we don’t die in the meantime.

Broadly speaking, early death in the UK is largely caused by three main factor groups; The Big Four (cancers, heart disease, stroke, lung disease), other diseases (kidney, liver, neuroskeletal other diseases and infections) and traumas (accidents, suicides).

Inevitably, a disproportionate amount of attention is given to unusual causes of death as these attract the attention of the media.  According to the Office for National Statistics, two people died from snake bites in the UK last year and seven people died having been kicked or bitten by cows or horses.(1)  Nevertheless, whilst these deaths (and those attributed to roller skating falls, parachute deaths, and bath drownings) are all of course tragic for those involved, their causes will almost certainly not be the cause of your own premature death.

Even causes of death that are may appear much more common aren’t really very likely to be a cause of your premature death. There were 102 cyclists killed in road accidents during 2016 (2). From a population of around sixty-six million people that represents a 0.0002% chance of this being your cause of death in any year.  This statistic is potentially slightly misleading because a lot of those sixty-six million people never cycle and have no risk of dying on a bike. However, even if we re-run the statistics to look at the risk of dying on a bike if you are a cyclist we only get to 0.0013%.  To put this in context, even if we filled Wembley Stadium with regular cyclists, we would still only expect a 0.1% chance of one of them dying that year in a cycling accident.  We should all be careful on our bikes and make sure our lights and brakes are in tip-top condition but in all likelihood, the chance of dying on your bike is remote.

Echelon Health Journal Blog How to live to a ripe old age - First Aid on Snake Bite
If you were one of the two people to die from snake bites in the UK last year, you were genuinely unlucky.

There’s a similar story when we look at diseases.  Illnesses such as MRSA and meningitis make a lot of headlines but kill a tiny number of adults in the UK.   There are countless other diseases that each contribute to total mortality in the UK every year.  For some of these diseases there are mitigating actions that can reduce our risk of contracting them but we would again stress that the risk is already tiny.  To take Lyme Disease as one example, we are all now much more aware of the risks and the need to check for ticks and the bullseye mark. Lyme Disease is potentially very serious and can make you very ill indeed but it is very rarely fatal.

So, this bring us to The Big Four. Cancers, heart disease, stroke and lung disease are the main causes of death in the UK and by far the most important causes of premature death.   If we are hoping to see our one-hundredth birthday then these are the potential causes that we really need to focus on.

It should go without saying that there is a lot we can do to reduce our chance of an early death from one of these factors.  There is already plenty of advice available online about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the choices we should make around exercise, diet, alcohol, smoking and stress.  We won’t labour the point here.  If you’ve got as far as searching for this article then you are probably already well aware of these choices and how you can give yourself an improved chance of a healthy old age.

Sadly, this is where life sometimes plays unfairly.  We have all heard stories, real and apocryphal, of someone’s granny who lived to be 110 in the best of health despite drinking a bottle of sherry every night and smoking two packs of cigarettes each day.    Certainly, such a lifestyle dramatically reduces the chance of a long and healthy life but this is where chance plays a part.  And this is where we step in. Regardless of what you eat, what you drink or what you do to keep fit and active, chance is going to play a part in determining whether you see a healthy ripe old age.

Echelon Health Journal Blog How to live to a ripe old age - Running to keep fit
It’s always important to keep fit and look after yourself – but many diseases do not respect the choices you’re made and attack you anyway.

In a recent study of every death in the UK,  an astonishing 24% of deaths were classed as “avoidable” by the Office of National Statistics.  In 2016 this equated to 141,101 deaths out of almost 600,000 deaths in the UK.   (4) In defining those “avoidable” deaths the ONS described:

“a death is amenable (treatable) if, in the light of medical knowledge and technology available at the time of death, all or most deaths from that cause (subject to age limits if appropriate) could be avoided through good quality healthcare”

This is an astonishing figure.  Almost a quarter of deaths amongst people under the age of 74 could be avoided with good quality healthcare. We passionately believe that the key to this is diagnosis at the very earliest stage.

We can do nothing to help you avoid the myriad of unlikely causes of premature death.  What we can do is massively swing the odds in your favour of avoiding the most likely causes of premature death by identifying potential issues at an early stage when they are most treatable and have the highest recovery probabilities. Many potentially life-threatening diseases carry little risk when diagnosed at the earliest stage.   Let us be frank about the importance of such early diagnosis. We are able to identify diseases at the earliest stage by using CT (computed tomography) scans analysed by the most experienced Harley St doctors. By the time such diseases are picked up by MRI scans or by patient symptoms the likely treatments may be far more invasive and survival rates much lower.  As just one example, X% of **** cancer patients survive for 10 years when the diagnosis is at Stage I.  At Stage V that has fallen to Y%.

So how do you give yourself the very best chance of living a healthy and long life?

  • Take sensible care of yourself
  • Mitigate the obvious risks
  • Don’t worry too much about risks that are really very small
  • Get yourself properly checked using CT scans to catch The Big Four at the earliest stage when death is avoidable
  • Invite us to your 100th birthday party!

Echelon Health – helping you live longer

If you are looking for the very best screening that is available in the world today and which dramatically reduces the chances of you suffering early and unexpected death, then we are confident that Echelon Health will meet the needs of you and your family.

Why not call us on 020 7580 7688 or email us on [email protected] and we shall be delighted to talk through the options and various Health Assessments available to you.

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ONS – Deaths registered in England & Wales

ROSPA – facts and figures regarding cyclists

Cycling UK Cycling Statistics

ONS – statistics on avoidable mortality