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Your risk of these health conditions increases as you get older. Here’s what to look for.

Many health conditions become more likely to affect you as you age. Some may not cause any symptoms at first, so you may not even realize you have the condition. But even without noticeable symptoms, unrecognized medical conditions can put your health at risk.

Be on the lookout for these common health problems as you get older. Get screened regularly and talk to your doctor if you have any telltale symptoms of these conditions.
  • Heart disease – Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and your chances of having the disease increase as you age. However, it is not a condition that suddenly occurs when you get older. A build-up of plaque in your arteries is the most common cause and this is a risk factor that develops throughout your life due to lifestyle and genetic factors. Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes increases your risk. So does being overweight.
  • High blood pressure – As you age, your blood vessels get less flexible. That makes it more likely that your blood pressure will rise. About 2 in 3 adults over age 60 have high blood pressure. Certain lifestyle habits also cause your blood pressure to increase, including being overweight, not exercising, smoking, experiencing chronic stress and eating too much salt. Making lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure, but many people also need to take prescription medicine to keep blood pressure in a healthy range.
  • Obesity – Many Americans are overweight or obese, but your risk of carrying too much weight increases as you age. Nearly 45 percent of people ages 40 to 59 experience obesity and nearly 42 percent of people over age 60. Obesity increases your risk of many chronic and serious diseases.
  • Diabetes – About 1 in 10 people have diabetes and many more have prediabetes, a condition in which your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Advancing age increases your risk of developing diabetes or prediabetes and many people don’t know they have these conditions. Although you may not have any symptoms at first, it’s easy to tell if you have diabetes by getting a blood test that checks your blood sugar levels.
  • Osteoarthritis – If you notice that your joints hurt more as you age, it’s not a coincidence. This form of arthritis develops due to wear and tear of the cartilage in joints over time. That makes age a major risk factor, but it’s not the only one. Being overweight, not being physically active, experiencing previous joint injuries and having other chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, also increase your risk.
  • Osteoporosis – Not only are your joints more likely to hurt, but your bones weaken as you age. Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones have weakened enough to be more prone to fractures. The strength of your bones as you get older is affected by what you’ve eaten and the activity you have done throughout your life, but consuming more calcium and vitamin D, as well as performing regular weight-bearing exercises at any age helps keep bones stronger.

“Being proactive with your health can add quality to the later years of your life.  Many lifestyle habits have a direct impact on our health, mobility, and mental well-being. It is worthwhile to discuss with your physician some simple changes that you can make now to improve your functionality and quality of life later.”

Dr. Laura R. Braham, Family Medicine

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Date Last Reviewed: March 19, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

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