Heath Risks for Women Over 40

Heath Risks for Women Over 40
Many women that are fabulously 40 and over frequently disregard mid-life care because they are too busy tending to their families, their career and their aging parents. However, at this stage in your life, it’s crucial to reflect on your health and discuss your family history and any lifestyle habits that can jeopardize your health. Creating a good wellness plan with your health care provider can minimize dangerous health risks that set the stage for serious disease later on in your life.

Heart Disease

Few women in their 40s and 50s are aware that heart disease could pose a significant risk to their well-being because heart attacks are often associated with older men. Heart disease means that your cardiovascular system is not working the way that it should be and it can take on the form of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, aneurysm or stroke. When you hit menopause, your risk of heart disease increases because your levels of estrogen drop. This hormone usually guards against heart disease. Other risks for heart disease include unhealthy eating habits, physical inactivity, smoking and high cholesterol.

Diabetes

Around your mid 40s, your metabolism slows down making it difficult to lose weight. Along with that, fat builds up in common problem areas such as the hips, thighs and abdomen. As the scale number climbs, your risk for type 2 diabetes increases so that is why it’s extremely important to commit to a weekly exercise plan. Other risks factors that can increase your risk of diabetes include having a parent or sibling with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and whether you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Osteoporosis

Your risk for osteoporosis increases with the hormonal changes in estrogen and progesterone that occur during menopause or premature menopause. This bone disease is often silent until the later stages and causes bones to become weak, frail or prone to breaking. The bone tissues become porous and thin which is the reason that they are likely to fracture. You can reduce your risk of osteoporosis and keep your bones healthy by adding weight-bearing and muscle-building exercises to your exercise plan. It’s also important to get adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D from your diet and supplements.

Depression

This serious mental health disorder can occur at any age but you are at an increased risk during middle age due to the physiological changes occurring in your body during menopause. Depression can cause symptoms such as a loss of interest in things that you enjoyed doing, feelings of hopelessness or despair, severe fatigue, digestive issues and irritability. Caregiving for aging relatives can create a steep risk of depression especially when caring for your own family because you can quickly become physically and emotionally exhausted. By developing a mental wellness plan that includes stress coping techniques and enlisting others for respite breaks, you can minimize your risks of depression.  

By working with your health care provider, you can decrease your risks of the common diseases that frequently occur in mid-life. Although you may not be able to change certain risk factors such as your genetics, you can drastically reduce your risk of a catastrophic event such as a heart attack or stroke by changing unhealthy habits. Seeking mid-life care and assessing your risks is the best thing you can do for yourself and those you love because it can save your life.

Your partner in health,
Dr. Laurie
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  • Laurie Birkholz, MD

    Laurie Birkholz, MD

    When Laurie Birkholz, MD, isn’t providing women’s health care at Lakeshore Health Partners, she enjoys the hiking trails and beaches in our community with husband, Eric, and their two daughters. Dr. Birkholz has a special interest in holistic health – focusing on all aspects of health-mind, body and spirit and their roles in continuing good health or returning to previous levels of health. From sexual health and cancer survivorship to nutrition and fitness counseling, Dr. Laurie helps women of all ages make their life a great life!

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