Those of you who like pizza will already know I have an older brother. He is 76. I am 72. We have lived our adult lives in different places and pursued different lifestyles, but we have ended up with the same debilitating psoriatic arthritis at about the same age. I have over the years developed a whole slew of autoimmune problems. My brother has some of these but not others. So I have been comparing notes with him. You might call my conclusions a statistically insignificant comparison study based on a ridiculously small number of subjects. Two! But what we have in common may be important, so I am going to summarise, as you might find it helpful.
There are 4 basic health issues we share - psoriatic arthritis, gut problems, high blood pressure and an enlarged heart (no we don't share a heart, we definitely have one each). So I think these issues may be fundamental, whereas others like Hashimoto's thyroiditis may be linked to the problem, but be sex specific. I have hesitated to include asthma as a 5th issue, as I was only diagnosed with this at the age of 70, and my FODMAP anti-inflammatory diet seems to have eliminated this problem entirely. And perhaps tinnitus could be added to the list, but it is not as life altering as the other problems.
1. psoriatic arthritis
I have had psoriasis mainly around my ears and scalp and on my upper arms and lower legs since I was about 18. And nail psoriasis developed in my late 20s. In contrast my brother has only ever had problems on his hands and finger nails. Yet we both developed psoriatic arthritis, with symptoms first being noticed in our 40s (his were knee problems, mine were back and knee problems), and the degeneration having only become noticeable enough for diagnosis in our late 60s.
2. gut problems
I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome in my 40s. I developed reflux problems in my 60s. Lucky brother only got the second one. He went on acid reducing medication, whereas I experimented with diet changes, firstly with a high fibre diet, then with FODMAP. The diet solution has sorted this problem for us both. It was about 8 months ago that I persuaded my brother to give the diet solution a go.
3. high blood pressure
This, I think was a blow for my brother. He is fit, and has a lifetime of healthy living behind him. He has not and has never had ANY of the risk factors for for high blood pressure. I smoked in my youth. I certainly drank, and after having a thyroid tumour at the age of 39, I became first overweight and then obese. And we both ended up with high blood pressure at the same age in our 60s.
4. enlarged heart
Despite both of us having this problem, neither of us has impaired heart function as demonstrated by echocardiograms. I found some info in an article on lupus which points to inflammation of the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart, which may explain how inflammation may be present that is not impeding the heart's function. For me this problem dates back about 20 years. Our father died of heart disease at the age of 60, having had his 1st heart attack about a decade before. I have concluded that pericarditis is a possible common factor here.
I know that traditionally what I have been writing about has been viewed as just the inevitable chronic disease of old age. But only half the population has arthritis by the time they are in their 80s. If old age was the problem, how did the other half of the population escape? Lifestyle has been blamed for a lot as well. So why is my clean living exercising brother, having made all the right choices, still in the same place as his evil (not so clean living) sister?
I think it is all worth a rethink, and psoriasis is one of the earliest key indicators or future risk. I think childhood tonsillitis may also be a key indicator, but I will leave that question for another posting later.
Hope this info is helpful.