Skip to content

5 Health Problems That Usually Strike When You're Over 50, According to Experts

The ailments are common to many ages but increase at midlife.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Most people around the world are living longer and can expect to live into their 60s and beyond, according to the World Health Organization

By 2030, one in six people will be 60 or older, a share of the population that will increase to 1.4 billion. By 2050, that segment of the world population will double, to 2.1 billion, the WHO says. 

Along with the growth of older people comes an increase in health issues related to aging. "What we see is that some chronic health conditions are frequently diagnosed starting at age 50," says Dr. Renuka Tipirneni, an internist and assistant professor in the Division of General Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Who develops these conditions varies, depending on genetics, lifestyle, ethnicity and race, and other factors: Some 80-year-olds have the physical and mental capabilities of  30-year-olds; others develop health problems a lot earlier, the WHO says.

And some will have more than one of these conditions, according to a 2017 study in Frontiers in Public Health journal. "Sixty-two percent of Americans over 65 have more than one chronic condition, and the prevalence of multiple chronic conditions is increasing, due to aging of populations and to increasing diabetes rates," the study says.

Here are five of the most common health problems that can strike when you reach 50.


High Blood Pressure

doctor taking patient's blood pressure with analog device
Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

More than 70 million Americans have high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Hypertension is a leading cause of stroke, heart attack, kidney disease and other issues that can lead to death.

It becomes more prevalent among people older than 60 as the blood vessels become less elastic.

"Hypertension, a major contributor to atherosclerosis, is the most common chronic disease of older adults," says the study in Frontiers in Public Health. "Isolated systolic hypertension is particularly common among older adults and is associated with mortality even at advanced ages."

People who are 40 or older should check their blood pressure at least annually, the Mayo Clinic advises. If you have hypertension, your doctor may advise even more frequent checks.


High Cholesterol

Blood Cholesterol Report Test Healthcare

"Cardiovascular disease remains the most common cause of death of older adults, although death rates have dropped in the last 20 years," according to the study in Frontiers in Public Health.

High cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis and blockages in blood vessels if left untreated. Atherosclerosis causes inflammation and further vascular changes that increase the risk for cardiac events, cerebrovascular events, peripheral vascular disease, cognitive impairment and other organ damage, the study says.

High cholesterol may be managed through lifestyle changes and medications. Blood tests are required to diagnose the issue as it presents with few if any symptoms.

Normal aging includes vascular remodeling and vascular stiffness, the study adds.



woman suffering from pain in bone

"Osteoarthritis is the second most common chronic condition among American older adults and a common cause of chronic pain and disability," according to the study in Frontiers in Public Health.

Some 52 percent of 85-year-olds have the disease, and it occurs more commonly among women than men, the study says.

Tipirneni calls it "the wear-and-tear-type of arthritis." "It can be very aggravating even younger than age 50, but especially over age 50, we see pain associated with that is coming up more and more," she adds.

Obesity is a risk factor for osteoarthritis. The rate of severe hip and knee arthritis increases as patients age.




"Diabetes rates have been increasing as populations age and become more overweight," according to the study in Frontiers in Public Health. "The prevalence of diabetes among American older adults may increase more than 400 percent by 2050."

Diabetes is linked to complications that include peripheral arterial disease and peripheral neuropathy, contributing to diabetic foot ulcers and amputations.

In its earliest stages, diabetes may be managed with lifestyle changes. "Sometimes we need to add some medications as well" to help control blood sugar levels, says Kate Lorig, professor emeritus at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a partner at the Self-Management Resource Center.



Shot of a doctor explaining a medical procedure with a model to a senior patient while sitting in her office

Aging leads to the loss of bone density in both men and women, though the latter are most likely to experience it after 50. That's attributable to menopause.

"When you stop making estrogen, your bone density typically goes down," says Dr. Lucy McBride, a Washington-based internist. Women are diagnosed with menopause on average at age 51, the Mayo Clinic says.

About 20 percent of women over 50 have osteoporosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Osteoporosis is associated with an increased rate of bone fractures, according to the study in Frontiers in Public Health.

Filed Under