06-23-2021 Primetime Living - Flipbook - Page 14
A Special Advertising Section of Baltimore Sun Media Group | Wednesday, June 23, 2021
varies by age
By Margit B. Weisgal, Contributing Writer
he headlines shout that to be healthy, our blood pressure should be 120/70.
Our cholesterol must be below 200. Are these good targets for older adults?
It’s a question worth asking. In my 30s, my internist told me, “With age, all
numbers go up. What’s important is to look at the whole picture.” What changed
who are 70 may act
like they’re 90 and
are old at 60.”
– Dr. Robin Wilson
Yes, it’s good to have targets and to
keep an eye on maintaining our health.
Numbers help us do that and are proven
beneficial to staving off debilitating diseases and illnesses. But after speaking
with experts who primarily work with
older adults, one message stood out:
We’re not like each other. We’re less like
each other than those younger than we
are. We each age very differently.
• Robin Wilson, M.D., Ph.D. is a
board-certified neurologist specializing in older patients at the Sandra
and Malcolm Brain & Spine Institute
at LifeBridge Health.
• Dr. Raymond Miller, M.D., medical director, Levindale Hebrew
Geriatric Center and Hospital, part
of LifeBridge Health.
Wilson starts the conversation. “It’s
not that older people are different from
younger people; older people are more
different from each other. We see more
variations amongst this cohort, this
demographic group than any other, so
it’s more difficult to make generalizations. Some people who are 70 may act
like they’re 90 and vice-versa. Others are
old at 60.”
This includes seniors in studies that
are starting to change, but doctors cannot use the same guidelines for these
older adults because they are all unique.
Not everyone who is 70 years old is
like another 70-year-old. All of us face
changes related to our physiology and
brains, but those don’t happen at the
same rate as others. Your physician has
to get to know you as an individual, so a
BP of 120/70 is great as a hedge against
heart disease. But, for example, even if a
person’s BP is elevated, knowing he also
know he plays tennis a few days a week
and travels extensively, a pretty healthy
lifestyle, a doctor has to think about how
much intervention is really necessary.
If, on the other hand, that hypothetical
person has balance issues, before pre-
scribing something, the question should
be “will this do more harm than good?”
A better option would be to calibrate a
blood pressure cuff from his home and
wait and see how that works.
Miller was more direct. “If you’re in
your 60s, you’re not old anymore. When
we say old, we usually mean people
in their 80s. It has more to do with the
person’s outlook, how they look at the
world. And even those in their 80s can be
pretty spry and together.”
“If you’re under 60,” Wilson explains,
“your focus is probably on work, family and recreation. You might not have
time to think about your own health.
Women typically establish medical care
to address reproductive issues, but men
may only go to a physician if compelled.
People under 60 seek help for pain or
infections. If they get sick it’s not due to a
lot of different problems; it’s usually only
one. Occasionally they might need regular follow up for one chronic issue such
as high blood pressure or depression.”
“If you’re over 60,” she adds,
“you start to see lots more variations
Age difference, continued on page 30