Keeping Mum Healthy
To celebrate Mother’s Day, we’re going to talk about health interventions for middle-aged women! While they definitely show superhuman traits, mothers bend and break just like the rest of us. In an ideal world, they would be around forever, but unfortunately, life is finite. The good news is that there are measures that we can take to make sure that they are around for as a long as possible. If you’re lucky enough to have your mother around, do what you can to keep her that way!
With all disease, age is a factor that increases the likelihood of development, so as one gets older, more precautions need to be taken. Here's a list of health screenings and interventions for middle-aged women for the prevention and early detection of illnesses – most of these interventions are applicable to men too!
Blood Pressure – Blood pressure is easy to monitor and should be done yearly. More emphasis should be put on this from age 40 upwards for the general population but for black and mixed people, this is important from age 30. High blood pressure can contribute to many health problems including heart disease, diabetes, organ failure and even dementia. If high blood pressure (hypertension) is common in your family, please consider getting tested even earlier and try to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Cholesterol – cholesterol checks should start between the ages of 40 and 45 and then should be tested every 5 years after that (more often if it is revealed that the patient has high blood pressure or if it is a hereditary problem). To maintain healthy cholesterol levels, saturated fats (including red meat) should be avoided.
Diabetes – from the age of 25 in black communities, diabetes should be screened for due to the increased chance of its development. Read here to learn more about diabetes in black communities or here to learn more about pre-diabetes and the importance of screening.
Mammogram – Breast Cancer is a lot less detrimental and easier to treat when detected early, breast exams can be done independently by inspecting your own breasts but this is controversial as anomalies are not often detected this way, nonetheless, if you feel anything suspicious then do contact a doctor. Mammograms should be considered from age 40 upwards and should take place every 1-2 years.
Heart Age Test – this can be done online here and can estimate your risk of developing heart disease or stroke by asking a few questions. It is suitable for people over 30.
Osteoporosis – osteoporosis is an illness that means that the sufferer has brittle bones. It is more common in women than and men and the occurrence is more likely after menopause. Exercise, vitamin D and calcium are good at preventing this. Black people in the UK are at a higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency due to our pigment blocking out sunlight – supplements are available.
Pap Smears and pelvic exams – These can screen for cervical cancer and problems in your cervix, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, uterus, and vagina. You can start having these exams from your mid 20’s.
STI screening – read here about the importance of STI testing (with or without promiscuity) – especially for African/African Caribbean people.
In addition to these health tests, adopting healthy habits does wonders to improve health at any age, this includes monitoring food portions; eating more fruit and veg; cutting back on sugary and fatty foods and drinks; exercising more; and dropping bad habits like smoking and remaining inactive for long periods of times. Trying to relieve stress is also beneficial to one’s health. These seemingly small factors accumulate and can lead to major health crises. Nothing is guaranteed but taking informed precautions can literally be the difference between life and death.
To discuss any of these matter with a member of our team, click here.