You Know You're Over 50 If You Have These Health Issues
Over 50? Whatever your state of health might be, knowing which issues are likely to crop up in midlife is crucial to prevention and treatment, experts say. "What we see is that some chronic health conditions are frequently diagnosed starting at age 50," says Renuka Tipirneni, M.D., internist and assistant professor in the Division of General Medicine at the University of Michigan. Here are five health conditions to be aware of after 50, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure—or hypertension—is a common health issue over the age of 50. "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. "The decision to begin blood pressure medication—and the amount and type your doctor prescribes—will depend on the severity of your high blood pressure. If you have prehypertension or if your blood pressure is mildly elevated, lifestyle changes alone may be the first step. Losing 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight, reducing sodium, improving your diet and exercising regularly will usually result in a lowering of your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is higher, your doctor will still recommend these changes along with blood pressure medications."
Diabetes is another health condition that builds up in your 50s and can result in serious health problems such as kidney disease and vision loss. While type 1 diabetes is usually developed early in life, type 2 diabetes may appear later and is largely preventable. "With proper self-management and good education, people with diabetes can live long, healthy lives," says Rita Kalyani, M.D. "If well-controlled, it should not detract from their quality of life but will require some adjustments to their daily routine."
Your risk for high cholesterol goes up with age, doctors warn. "Studies have consistently shown that lowering LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attacks, strokes, and the need for cardiac catheterizations or bypass surgeries," says Davis Kimaiyo, MD. "This has been shown in those with established coronary artery disease, as well as in high-risk patients without coronary artery disease."
Osteoporosis is a particular concern for women post-menopause, but men are affected too. "While the disease is more common in women, men are also at risk for osteoporosis," says Heather Buschman, PhD. "The misconception that osteoporosis is a 'women's disease' likely stems from the fact that women are at risk a little earlier in life, typically beginning in their 50s, right around menopause… The biggest cause for worry is this: roughly one in four men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Yet women are far more likely to get tested for bone density and start taking calcium and vitamin D supplements after breaking a bone."
A recent study evaluating the link between mobility and COVID-19 in older adults showed people over 50 are at greater risk of serious complications from the COVID-19 virus—so staying up to date with vaccinations and boosters is crucial. "We found that even those with mild and moderate illness due to COVID-19 experienced adverse changes in mobility and physical function compared to individuals without COVID-19," says epidemiologist Susan Kirkland, PhD. "These findings are worth noting because they indicate that the negative effects of COVID-19 are much broader and impact a wider range of older adults than those who are hospitalized for COVID-19."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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