The big 5-0 is on the calendar (or perhaps in your rear view mirror). It's is getting harder and harder to escape the fact that your body doesn't rebound the way it used to after a round of golf or other physical activity. You might be getting tired doing thins that used to be part of your regular routine. As our bodies age, they go through changes and the risks for many common health problems increase as you age. 50 is a good time to take stock and make some healthy changes. What health concerns should you watch for?
A number of medical conditions become more common in people over 50. Aging increases the risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, respiratory disease and heart disease. For men over 50, here are four specific health concerns to monitor and discuss with your doctor:
As we age our heart function naturally begins to decline. That's why heart disease is most common in people age 65 or older. In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and half who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Key risk factors include: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices also put men at higher risk:
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
It is important to visit your doctor annually and ask them to check your heart and discuss your personal risk factors for heart disease.
Catching cancer early, when it is easier to treat, give men and women the best chance of survival. Some cancers are more common in men and have screening guidelines that start at age 50. Knowing what you can do about each can help you prevent them or find them early:
- Prostate cancer: Starting at age 50, the American Cancer Society recommends that you talk to your doctor about your family's health history, prostate cancer symptoms and testing. Most prostate cancers are found in men over 65 and, for reasons that are still unknown, African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than men of any other race.
- Colon cancer: The American Cancer Society recommends a colonoscopy or other colon screening test starting at age 50.
- Lung cancer: About 8 in 10 lung cancer deaths are tied to smoking but people who don't smoke can have lung caner. If you are a smoker, quit and you'll increase your odds of preventing lung cancer. Not a smoker? Don't start and do your best to avoid second hand smoke.
Stroke in an injury to the brain that occurs when the brain's blood supply is interrupted. Blood carries oxygen which is necessary for all cells in the body to survive. The brain has one of the highest demands for oxygen. In fact, cells in the brain start to die if they are without oxygen-rich blood for more than a few minutes and that's why it is important to act fast when the signs of stroke are present.
People with Type 2 diabetes - the most common type of diabetes - have stopped responding to the levels of insulin in their body. As the body becomes increasingly resistant to insulin. glucose builds up in the blood and body tissues are starved for energy. Men are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women. Add to the tendency men have to avoid talking about their health and a generally less healthy lifestyle than women, and you have a health issue that men need to know about. Men also have a few unique diabetes symptoms to be aware of:
- Low testosterone: shown by low energy, muscle loss and depression
- Erectile dysfunction: men with diabetes are three times more likely to experience ED than men without
- Bladder problems: high blood sugar can damage the nerves that control the bladder causing overactive bladder and urinary tract infections
There is one more common thread that tuns through each of the medical conditions mentioned in this article: see your doctor regularly. Annual health check-ups are the best way for you to monitor any changes in your health and make sure you stay up to date with all screening guidelines that are often tied to your age.
When you turn 50, take some time to examine your habits and make some changes to get you on the road to your best self.
More tips for a healthier life after 50
- Schedule your health screenings: colon cancer, bone density scan
- Keep up with annual check-ups
- Watch what you eat - stay away from unhealthy fats and focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains
- Exercise regularly
- Get more sleep
- Take quiet time for your self - meditation, prayer or something that inspires you