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The passing of QUEEN ELIZABETH II -old age and the human body.

Updated: Sep 10, 2022




It has been announced that her majesty the Queen passed away peacefully on Thursday 8th September 2022. She had no publicly know medical conditions So what happens to the body with age?


Mobility issues

With age the joints experience wear and tear. In 2018 it was reported that the Queen had issues with knee pain. The Queen mother and the Duke of Edinburgh both had hip replacements. When asked about getting Joint replacement surgery she said in 2018 “she doesn't want to take any time off and miss her engagements”. It is also known that she had issues with her back going back a decade. The most common cause of joint pain in the elderly is osteoarthritis. The cartilage that coats the end of the bones over time becomes inflamed and breaks down to the point where bone can meet bone. This is like sandpaper sliding against sandpaper, it's rough stiff, and painful. Osteoarthritis is most common in the knees and can occur in the hips, spine, and hands



Weight loss.

It was noted that the Queen appeared increasingly frail and has lost weight. The most common causes of weight loss in the elderly are hyperthyroidism, cancer, Alzheimer's, dementia, gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, and heart disease. Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of the hormones that control metabolism. This means that energy will be burnt that much faster with these excess hormones causing weight loss. 1 in 2 people get cancer in their lifetime. Your risk increases with age, making cancer a prime contender. Cancer cells burn much more energy because they are constantly dividing, ultimately resulting in weight loss. Alzheimer's and dementia can cause weight loss as parts of the brain become damaged. The body's ability to regulate functions such as hunger then becomes compromised, causing weight loss. Gastrointestinal issues often result in compromising the gut's ability to absorb nutrients sufficiently causing weight loss. Your risk of developing diabetes increases with age. Low insulin levels prevent sugar from being available in the blood. In its absence, the body compensates by burning fat and muscle resulting in weight loss. While all of these conditions could be a contender for the Queen's weight loss another contender is the side effects of medication.

Circulation.

In recent images of the Queen, there is a bluish bruise on the back of her hand. Bruising such as this can indicate that there is a problem with the blood. Blood cancers and blood thinners and other medications can cause unexplained bruising. Elizabeth II is the great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria who carried the genes for haemophillia a bleeding disorder, however, the Queen had never publicly shown signs of this. The trouble with circulation and bruising from the insertion of a cannula, to deliver medication into the bloodstream, could both cause this type of bruising.


Organ failure.

Organ failure is quite common in the elderly. Could the Queen have suffered from this?

All vital organs start to lose function as you age. With aging, cells that make up tissues start to increase in size and struggle to divide and multiply. There is also an increase in pigmentation and fatty substances, which means that the cells are not able to function as they once could.


Many tissues begin to atrophy, they lose mass. This is why the elderly are frailer. With these cellular changes come changes in the organs. Organs slowly start to lose their function. The heart, liver, and lungs deteriorate the most. In a person's prime, these organs had a reserve of energy, making them powerful and hard-working but with age, these organs do not function as well as they once did. This loss of function can induce sudden organ failure. This loss of reserve energy makes it harder to keep balance, hence the Queen’s need to walk with a walking aid. Aging is a complex process and it affects people and organs differently. It is a difficult process to understand. Aging is considered to be influenced by factors such as environment, culture, diet, and exercise.


With age, the heart and blood vessels become stiffer. The heart fills with blood more slowly, this then causes an increase in blood pressure as the arteries aren't able to expand as much as they used to.


In aging, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles weaken, which affects breathing. The number of alveoli in the lungs decreases meaning they are not functioning as well in gas exchange as they once could. The lungs also become less elastic. This weakening of the lungs makes them more prone to infection.


The digestive system is the least affected by aging. The oesophagus contracts less forcefully but the movement of food is not harmed. These are very slight changes to the digestive tract in comparison to other organs.


The kidneys decrease in size due to the cells dying. Less blood is filtered as well as waste products. The kidneys may excrete too much water and too little salt making dehydration very common in elderly patients.


The immune system is also now working slower. This makes catching an infection more lethal.


The Queen had no known medical conditions, but it doesn't mean she had none. Although her life was very much on public display the Queen is entitled to some privacy. We tend to see the medical record of royals released decades after their death in a historical context. Here at The Post Mortem Live our thoughts and well wishes are with the Royal Family, our audiences and the nation as a whole. Today, this week as we mourn and reflect on the Queens 70 year reign we do so with warmth and happiness.


God save the King.


As a mark of respect The Post Mortem Live's logos will remain black for as long as appropriate, our box office is open and operating as normal.


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