Stress leaves Generation X old before their time

24 November 2016
  • Bupa publishes its analysis of over 60,000 procedures* for the first time
  • Younger people are undergoing treatment for conditions traditionally associated with older generations, like haemorrhoids and varicose veins, knee joint disorders and back problems
  • Online searches for conditions associated with stress are also on the up
man waiting for an underground train
Bupa has today, for the first time, made public its analysis of over 60,000 procedures and over 4.7 million hits to its online health information pages in 2015. 

The most striking trend was the number of procedures undertaken to treat younger generations for conditions usually associated with old age. Haemorrhoid removal and varicose veins were two of the most common procedures for 26-35 and 36-45 year olds within the category of surgical Heart and Circulatory Diseases*. 

36-45 year olds are also now the most likely to undergo knee and back procedures. Multiple arthroscopic knee operations* and transforaminal epidurals* for back problems were both in the top five most common procedures for this age range in 2015. 

The anonymous analysis found that ‘Generation X’, so those born in the late 60s to early 80s, could effectively be renamed ‘Generation Stress’, as the high stress, ‘always on’ nature of their lifestyles, coupled with the increasingly sedentary nature of modern living has seen surprising numbers of conditions traditionally associated with old age. 

Even millennials are suffering from similar ‘older generation’ afflictions with multiple arthroscopic operations on knees also being one of the top five procedures amongst the 16-25 year old category. 

Bupa also revealed a sharp rise in patient searches on their health information site for conditions associated with stress. Searches for “piles”, “IBS” and “peptic ulcers” increased 2454%, 1818%, and 347% respectively, compared to 2014. Searches for stress itself increased 388% year on year.   

As well as age ranges, the analysis looked at the most common procedures across genders and UK cities in 2015. In particular, ‘older age’ procedures were revealed to be top of the table in Cardiff and Liverpool, where knee operations were the single most common procedures, and in Newcastle, where transforaminal epidurals were the most regularly undertaken procedures. 

Dr. Steve Iley, Medical Director, Bupa UK said: “This shows a significant number of our customers are  prematurely experiencing conditions you would normally associate with much older people. For example, haemorrhoid removal and treatment for varicose veins are procedures that people in this age group should not be encountering. However, when you consider the amount of time young people now spend, sat using their mobiles and tablets, streaming boxsets or playing with the latest games console, you can see why these conditions are rising in this age group.

“From their early twenties, more and more people are working long hours, with jam-packed schedules, and without the ability to ever really switch off. This, combined with bad postures and lack of movement, are taking their toll physically and mentally. 

“Our changing lifestyles make it more important than ever that people have access to the latest and best medical services. Early and regular consultation can prevent a lot of the conditions we have seen from developing and will enable people to continue to lead the lives they want to.”

An infographic can be downloaded here.

Notes to editor

*Definitions of medical terminology 
  • “Procedure” – any operation of any size
  • “Heart and Circulatory Diseases” - treatments for heart disease such as angina or palpitations, and treatments to arteries and veins in the legs and elsewhere
  • “Multiple arthroscopic knee operations” – a knee arthroscopy is a type of keyhole surgery to look inside the knee to find out more about problems, such as whether there is an inflammation or an injury. Treatment can also happen during a knee arthroscopy
  • “Transforaminal epidurals” - Injections to the nerves near the spine to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation and swelling 

Top 10 Most Common Procedures in 2015 across the UK

    • Diagnostic colonoscopy 
    • Diagnostic endoscopic examination of bladder 
    • Ultrasound phacoemulsification of cataract, with lens implant - unilateral 
    • Multiple arthroscopic operation on knee
    • Transforaminal epidural
    • Diagnostic oesophago-gastro-duodenoscopy (OGD) and immediate colonoscopy
    • Hysteroscopy 
    • Medial Branch Block or Facet joint injection
    • Primary total hip replacement
    • Surgical removal of impacted/buried tooth/teeth

The most searched for conditions in 2015 across the UK

      • Fungal skin infections 
      • Hiatus hernia
      • Menopause
      • Piles
      • Gallstones
      • Cystitis 
      • IBS
      • Sinusitis 
      • Hypertension
      • Rectal prolapse 

Biggest increase in searched for conditions in 2015 across the UK

        • Piles – 2454%
        • IBS  - 1819%
        • Menopause – 428%
        • Stress – 389%
        • Tennis elbow – 349%
        • Peptic ulcer – 347%
        • Rectal prolapse – 316%
        • Osteoarthritis – 280%
        • Fungal skin infections – 272%
        • Malaria – 270%

To provide the above data, Bupa analysed anonymised claims data from 2015, and reviewed the searches into medical conditions that had been made on the Bupa website.

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