The Health Risks You Face after Forty
Introducing you to health risks is not saying that turning forty somehow signals an onslaught of diseases and disabilities. Many women are healthier than they've ever been as they approach midlife. But a well-thought-out approach to health maintenance is smart at any age, and it becomes more important as each year passes. Don't think of your health care efforts as part of entering old age; think of them as a simple, basic plan to preserve and extend your energy and quality of life.
Time for a Tune-Up
Everyone — man and woman — has to invest a bit more time and attention in his or her “machine” as it ages. Your body works hard, and after years of service even routine maintenance becomes more demanding — and essential. You lose track of the tradeoffs you've made in how you spend your time and mental energy with less time spent outdoors moving your body, and more time spent sitting behind a desk or in the car, struggling to meet deadlines, resolving problems, or sorting out schedules. Many people enter their forties wedged between caring for their children and their parents. Add to that the accumulation of many years of not-so-healthy habits and it's easy to see why your body might need a little TLC as it hits midlife.
As Estrogen Wanes
Estrogen provides women with a natural protection against certain diseases, such as osteoporosis, high cholesterol, and vaginal atrophy. In perimenopause, a woman's body produces less estrogen, making her more vulnerable to these and other health risks. Many physical symptoms that might be attributed to the first pangs of aging might actually be the first warning signals of serious health problems. So a good health care regimen at age forty can lay the groundwork for a healthy passage through ages fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, and beyond.
Many women view breast cancer as their greatest health threat, but heart disease is a much greater risk for women. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly twice as many women in the United States die of heart disease and stroke than from all forms of cancer combined — and that includes breast cancer.