Women’s Top Health Concerns
As women age, certain health concern become more important. Here are some of the most common ones and ways you can address them.
Heart disease/cardiovascular health
Because blood vessels and arteries become stiffer as we get older, the heart works harder to pump blood through them. This can increase your risk of high blood pressure, so be sure to manage stress, eat a healthy diet, enjoy exercise daily, get enough sleep (seven to nine hours each night), and don’t smoke.
Also, remember that heart disease symptoms for women can differ from those for men. The American Heart Association offers this list of symptoms of heart attack and stroke in women (https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/signs-and-symptoms-in-women).
A woman’s risk of developing breast cancer increases as she ages. According to the National Cancer Institute, a woman age 30 has a 1-in-227 chance of developing breast cancer. At age 50 the risk is 1-in-42, and at 60, the risk is 1-in-28.
However, keep in mind that factors other than age can be involved. They include family history, mammographic breast density, personal history of breast cancer, genetic alterations, reproductive and menstrual history, alcohol consumption, radiation therapy, body weight and longterm use of menopausal hormone therapy.
Women make up about 80 percent of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis. The reason includes having smaller bones than men and reduced estrogen levels as women age (can cause bone loss).
Taking estrogen is one form of therapy, but there are several risks, including stroke, heart attack, blood loss and cognitive decline, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Other therapy, such as with denosumab (known by several trademark names), also comes with risks. Discuss these factors with your doctor.
For general bone health, make sure your diet includes plenty of vitamin D, avoid smoking or drinking, and exercise regularly, making sure you incorporate weight-bearing exercise.
Like most every other part of your body, your brain undergoes changes as you age. These changes can affect your memory or ability to multitask, for example.
Your brain is a muscle, and like other muscles, it needs to be exercised. Keep your brain active with familiar personal care such as exercising, eating a balanced diet, quitting and treating any cardiovascular disease. But you can add social interaction and staying mentally active — learning new hobbies or taking classes, reading, etc. — to that list.
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