Doctors Warn of These Issues if You're Over 50
Your 50s can be a golden age in terms of friends, family, career, and happiness, but it's also when many age-related health conditions start to crop up. "It's a time that many people step back and say, 'Oh, my health is not a given. I actually need to do things to at least make it stable and make it better.' I would say the peak time window that I see patients is between 50 and 70," says Susan Friedman, MD., professor in the division of geriatrics and aging at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Here are five health issues doctors want you to be aware of after 50. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is a common health condition from age 40 onwards. "Screening for hearing loss is recommended in adults older than 50 to 60 years," say Anne. D Walling, MB, ChB, and Gretchen M. Dickson, MD, MBA. "Hearing loss impacts communication and functional ability, and is strongly associated with decreased quality of life, cognitive decline, and depression. Despite its prevalence and morbidity, hearing loss is underrecognized and undertreated. It may be under-recognized because it is a slowly developing problem or because of the belief that hearing loss is a normal part of aging. Undertreatment may result from poor appreciation of options for hearing enhancement, or patient resistance or inability to use hearing aids and assistive listening devices. Cost and social stigma are major factors in the diagnosis and management of hearing loss."
Age-related low bone density is commonly seen as a female problem, but doctors warn men can be affected too. "Men who have experienced a fracture over the age of 50 need to be proactive," says Deborah Kado, MD, associate professor and bone health specialist at UC San Diego Health. "Instead of just chalking it up to being a freak event, that fracture should be a wakeup call to see a doctor and get a bone density scan. At that point, men might want to also think about becoming more physically active and improving their balance."
Studies show that between 2011 to 2016, heart disease death rates increased 1.5% among the 45 to 60 age group. "That adds up to 129,400 more deaths per year in adults under 65 – people in the prime of their working and family lives," says Amit Khera, M.D. "Historically, heart disease care has been more focused on reacting to coronary problems than preventing them. Vast improvements have been made in post-heart attack treatment, including stenting and medications such as statins, but we aren't doing enough to help patients avoid artery blockages, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and promote a heart-healthy lifestyle."
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Even people who don't develop high blood pressure by age 55-65 have a 90% lifetime risk for developing it, says Cleveland Clinic. "But doctors no longer consider hypertension inevitable or untreatable with age," says Samuel Durso, M.D., director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins. "Your doctor will choose the medications that are right for you. Often, doctors prescribe more than one medication to control blood pressure. You may need medications that work on several different mechanisms to bring your blood pressure down. Or your doctor may be able to give you lower medication doses, and reduce the chances for side effects, by combining two or three medications."
"Many people begin to notice changes in memory by around age 50," says Harvard Health. "A typical sign of this mild forgetful-ness is difficulty recalling a word or name that once came easily to you. As your body ages, so does your brain, and as the structure of the brain ages, so does its ability to process information quickly. Memory can falter as a result of stress, anxiety, fatigue, distractions, or being overloaded. Memory difficulties may also be caused by medications, poor vision or hearing, sleep disturbances, depression, or chronic pain—all things you can take steps to correct."
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