It’s a simple fact of science: Aging brings an increased risk of certain chronic health issues. But that doesn’t mean you need to prepare yourself for decades of infirmity. Knowing the most common health problems after 60—and how to prevent them—can allow you to reduce your risk and perhaps avoid them entirely. These are the conditions to watch for, according to doctors. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Heart disease is still the #1 killer of Americans, with the majority of heart attacks occurring in people over age 65. But a man’s risk of heart attack starts to rise at age 45; for women, it’s 55. Experts recommend a physical exam every year, which can screen for heart disease signals, such as elevated LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. In the meantime, you can lower your risk by eating a healthy diet, getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, avoiding tobacco, and drinking alcohol only in moderation.
Type 2 diabetes is known as a silent killer—its two biggest risk factors are obesity and aging, and it can raise your chances of having a heart attack or stroke or developing dementia. Get screened regularly. “If you are age 65 or older and in good health, you should be screened for diabetes every 3 years,” says the National Institutes of Health. “If you are overweight and have other risk factors for diabetes, ask your provider if you should be screened more often.”
By and large, dementia develops in the later years, so it’s important to be alert for possible symptoms after 60. Problems with memory or cognition that don’t improve, or get worse, warrant consultation with your healthcare provider. These can include memory loss, difficulty communicating, problems with coordination, mood or personality changes, or trouble with complex tasks.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can develop without symptoms, and it carries serious risks, including an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The NIH recommends having your blood pressure checked at least once a year. (People with diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems and other conditions may need to have it checked more often.) If the top number (systolic) is 130 or higher, or the bottom number (diastolic) is 80 or higher, talk with your healthcare provider about how you can lower your blood pressure.
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The NIH recommends that all women over age 64 should have a bone density test (DEXA scan). You should also ask your healthcare provider which exercises or lifestyle changes can help prevent osteoporosis. And to get through life at your healthiest, don’t miss The #1 Cause of Diabetes, According to Doctors.