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Health Issues Affecting Baby Boomers with Dr. Thomas Tambouratzis

By Kevin Brown

Baby Boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, is estimated to number 73 million. It is currently the second-largest generation behind the Millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1996. Boomers are the children of the World War II generation and the parents of Generation X and the Millennials. By the year 2030, all Boomers will have reached the age of 65. The oldest Boomers are now 74 and the youngest are 57.

Aging brings health problems and Boomers are no exception. Some of the most common health issues affecting Boomers include arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and obesity. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine1, Boomers are more likely than the previous generation to experience higher rates of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and cancer. On the other hand, Boomers experience lower rates of emphysema and heart disease than their parents’ generation.

We spoke recently with Dr. Thomas Tambouratzis, an internal medicine physician with the Washington Health System (WHS), about what Boomers should be doing to stay healthy. He encourages Boomers to take an active role in monitoring their health since aging increases the likelihood of health issues. “According to current projections, three million Baby Boomers will reach 65 years old each year, until the year 2029. By then, 25 percent of seniors will have diabetes and 33 percent will be obese,” he notes.

Dr. Tambouratzis recommends that Boomers keep tabs on their health. “Baby Boomers should be monitoring their health every day,” he says. “How do they feel each day? Are they weak? Are they having problems breathing? Vison problems? Walking problems? Chest pain? Heartburn? Back problems? Knee problems? They should seek medical attention through their primary care doctor for these problems.”

“On one day, it can be taking their blood pressure with an automatic blood pressure cuff, then writing down the results in a notebook. Take the blood pressure in both arms as there can be variation,” he says. “High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, but can be treated with medications and lifestyle changes.”

“On a second day, it can be getting on the weight scale to check body weight,” he advises. “Obesity is a serious problem in the USA among Baby Boomers. It increases their risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can also limit their mobility,” he says.
 
Dr. Tambouratzis believes an essential part of monitoring health includes evaluation by a physician. “Of course, monitoring their health should include at least one visit per year to their primary care doctor for discussion, and some testing,” he says.

“Testing should be based on the assessment of a reputable healthcare provider, who has seen the patient, spent at least 20 minutes with the patient, talking to the patient, examining the patient, and reviewing any prior testing that the patient had done,” he says.
 
“Basic testing should include blood tests, such as complete blood cell count (CBC), comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), and lipid profile. We prefer that the patient fast 10 to 12 hours for the blood tests, so we can check a fasting glucose and fasting lipid profile. Imaging studies, like x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRI testing can be done, if indicated, in individual cases. Testing should be carefully selected by the healthcare provider, based on his assessment of the patient,” recommends Dr. Tambouratzis.
 
Ignoring health issues could seriously affect the Boomers’ lifestyles and longevity.
 
“Regarding high blood pressure and obesity, it would lead to potentially serious chronic medical conditions. If a senior patient has possible heart disease, and they ignore symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, they could potentially have a heart attack and die,” Dr. Tambouratzis explains.
 
“Those are just two examples, but whether it’s coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, heart valve problems, or chronic lung disease, many health conditions have treatments that will slow down the damage, to help older patients maintain a good quality of life through their senior years,” he says.

Diet and exercise are very important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Tambouratzis advises Boomers to consult their physician before starting a diet and exercise program. “Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise are essential in maintaining good health. Keep your weight at a healthy level and stay active with a daily exercise program,” he says.

As Boomers age, they can stay healthy and avoid serious health issues as much as possible by following Dr. Tambouratzis’ advice and that of their physician.

If you would like more information about aging and health issues, or if you need a physician, visit the WHS website at www.whs.org or call (724) 250-4310.

1 JAMA INTERN MED/ VOL 173 (NO. 5), MAR 11, 2013 WWW. JAMAINTERNALMED.COM

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