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Most Common Health Issues People Have in Their 50s

10 health issues experts warn can happen in your 50s. 
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

With every new decade we enter there comes a new set of challenges and priorities to tackle. Adjusting your lifestyle choices to your body's needs is just one of the things people should do when they hit 50. Physical changes start to take place at that age and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who explain what the most common health issues people will have in their 50s and what to do about it. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Presbyopia

Dr. Kurt Moody, OD, FAAO, Director of Professional Education at Johnson & Johnson shares, "100% of people will start to become farsighted, also known as presbyopia, after the age of 40. Needing to hold things at a distance and struggling to see in dim light. Some fear that glasses or readers age them – but now there are multifocal contact lenses that can replace the old bifocals to provide a more youthful look. More than anything, everyone needs to visit their optometrist after the age of 40 to have their prescription updated for their aging eyes and see what new options exist. Globally there are 1.9 billion people with presbyopia with it becoming noticeable for patients in their early to mid-40s and continues to worsen until around age 65."

Chaye McIntosh, Clinical Director, ChoicePoint adds, "Weakened eyesight is one of the most common health issues faced by people in their 50s. Eyesight is affected by the long exposure to screens and putting strain on the eyes for a long time. It can be maintained by using glasses regularly. With age, all body organs start to deteriorate. The functioning becomes less. One must maintain a healthy lifestyle if he/she wants long-term health and fitness (especially if they are in their late 50s). They should eat a diet that must be high in proteins and less in processed carbs. They must also do yoga plus meditation. Apart from that, regular checkups to ensure the body's proper functioning are very necessary to enjoy life without health complications."

2

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

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Dr. Steve Hruby, a Doctor of Chiropractic and founder at Kaizen Progressive Health says, "High blood pressure, which is a key risk factor for heart disease and stroke, is a prevalent condition seen among patients in their 50s. The vascular system changes as we age, which is one reason why high blood pressure is so common in this age group. The pressure inside the arteries begins to harden and become less elastic. Weight gain and stress associated with middle age might also contribute to rising numbers. The good news is that high blood pressure can be controlled with medicine and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. However, because the illness frequently lacks symptoms, it is simple to overlook. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of persons with high blood pressure are unaware of their condition (CDC). That's why, once you turn 50, you should get your blood pressure checked 'more frequently' – at least once a year. The American Heart Association considers a blood pressure result of 120/80 or lower to be normal. Anything above 130 on the top number (the systolic reading) is considered high and should be discussed with your doctor about treatment options."

3

Hypercholesterolemia (High Cholesterol)

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Dr. Hruby explains, "High cholesterol, which can build up on the interior of blood vessels over time and form plaque, slowing or blocking blood flow, is another cause of heart disease. A blood clot, or possibly a heart attack or stroke, can result from this plaque breaking loose. High cholesterol, like high blood pressure, becomes more likely as you get older. It also has no symptoms or warning indications, which is why it's critical to check your numbers with a routine blood test at the doctor's office throughout your middle years. Medication, as well as diet and exercise, can help decrease cholesterol."

4

Diabetic Complications

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According to Dr. Hruby, "While your blood is being checked for cholesterol, your doctor may also screen you for diabetes, which is another frequent issue that develops in your 50s and can cause serious health problems. According to the CDC, more than 34 million Americans have diabetes, the vast majority of which is type 2, and individuals in their middle years are the most vulnerable. Diabetes can frequently be controlled by making lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Diabetes, like high blood pressure and cholesterol, has many quiet warning signals, which is why screening is so crucial. Diabetes, if left untreated, can cause a variety of health problems, including kidney disease, eyesight loss, and heart disease."

Dr. Michael Abramoff is a fellowship-trained retina specialist adds, "For patients with diabetes, having the recommended annual diabetic eye exam is the best way to check for eye diseases early on and potentially catch issues before they cause vision loss. Thanks to advances in diagnostic technology, it's even possible to get your diabetic eye exam done using artificial intelligence."

5

Rheumatoid Arthritis

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"Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, arises when the joint cartilage between bones is damaged or breaks down, is a condition that appears in your 50s but is sometimes overlooked or dismissed," says Dr. Hruby. "Even if you're younger than 50, it may be very annoying, but we're seeing more and more pain connected with that as you get old. Talk to your doctor if you experience joint pain or stiffness from daily activities. It's important to rule out rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune and inflammatory condition. Osteoarthritis is treated in a variety of ways. Increasing physical activity can help prevent further pain or incapacity. To ease pain, your health care practitioner may offer over-the-counter or prescription pain medicines."

6

Osteopenia

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Dr. Hruby emphasizes, "Women, in particular, should monitor their bone health after the age of 50, as this is when osteoporosis, or bone thinning, is most common. According to the CDC, about 20% of women 50 and older have osteoporosis. Because being postmenopausal is one of the risk factors for osteoporosis, when you stop producing oestrogen, your bone density usually decreases. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average age of menopause among women is 51. Walking and upper-body strength training, for example, are weight-bearing workouts that can help reduce your chance of developing osteoporosis. Keeping track of your calcium intake and vitamin D levels, both of which are crucial for bone health, can help."

7

Sarcopenia

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Kent Probst, personal trainer, kinesiotherapist and bodybuilder with Long Healthy Life says, "Age-related loss of muscle mass is known as sarcopenia.  Most people lose 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30.  A sedentary lifestyle accelerates sarcopenia.  Increased muscle mass is associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality in people over age 55.  Sarcopenia can be corrected with strength training 2-3 times per week."

8

Decline in Testosterone

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According to Probst, "After age 40, men's testosterone levels decline about 1% per year.  This is why it's important to monitor your free and total testosterone levels as you age.  Muscle mass, strength, mood, libido, fat distribution, bone mass, and the production of sperm and red blood cells are all affected by testosterone.  One way to keep testosterone levels up is with strength training 2-3 times per week."

9

Obesity

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Probst states, "Here are some sobering facts:  In addition to being at risk for type II diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, being overweight can lead to a host of other problems such as osteoarthritis, gout, sleep apnea, Alzheimer's and several forms of cancer.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous cardiovascular exercise to significantly reduce the risk of disease." 

Dr. Abramoff adds, "Obesity increases your risk of diabetes and other health conditions, which can also impact your eyesight. Making small dietary changes and speaking with your doctor or nutritionist will put you on the right path to a healthier lifestyle."

10

Loss of Hearing

 

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"Due to exposure to loud noises and poor health habits, some people become hearing impaired," Probst says. "Here are 6 ways to reduce the risk of hearing loss:

  • Avoid sharp objects
  • Avoid noise over 85 decibels
  • Stay physically fit
  • Don't smoke
  • Avoid side effects from medications
  • Eat a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet"
Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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