Outsmart Your Top Health Risks

It's not too late to outsmart some common health conditions. Get tips for reducing your risk of heart disease, COPD, Alzheimer's and more.

Health Monitor Staff

If you’re in your 50s, 60s and beyond, you might think your health fate is sealed. Well, think again! The great news is that no matter your past health history, you can make changes starting today that can add years to your life! Here, study-proven ways to stay on top of health risks for seniors—and come out happier, healthier and more energetic!

Protect against heart disease by…

  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating a diet high in fiber, low in fat and rich in lean sources of protein
  • Exercising at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week
  • Keeping your cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL
  • Achieving a healthy weight
  • Monitoring your risk for diabetes or managing your blood sugar if you already have it 

Tip: Ask your healthcare provider if you should take a daily aspirin.

Heart disease
Watch for and report the following symptoms to your healthcare provider ASAP:

  • Chest pain, tightness or discomfort
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath with activity
  • Unusual stomach pain, nausea or indigestion

Fend off cancer by…

  • Quitting smoking
  • Working out regularly
  • Getting screenings, especially for prostate, breast, cervical and colon cancers

Watch for and report these symptoms to your healthcare provider ASAP:

  • Changes in bladder or bowel habits
  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles or elsewhere
  • Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness

Ward off COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) by…

  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Getting asthma under control
  • Avoiding chemicals, dust, fumes
  • Staying indoors when outside air quality is poor (check airnow.gov for your location)

Watch for and report these symptoms to your healthcare provider ASAP:

  • Chronic cough that produces mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

Defend against stroke by…

  • Getting your blood pressure (the number one stroke risk factor) under control
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding artery-clogging foods like egg yolks, fatty meats, butter and cream
  • Taking a brisk walk most days of the week
  • Controlling atrial fibrillation, if you have it

Watch for and call 911 if you notice:

  • Face drooping, especially on one side (like an uneven smile)
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty (inability to repeat a simple sentence like “The sky is blue.”)

Protect against Alzheimer’s disease by…

  • Reining in your risk of heart disease, which affects about 80% of those with Alzheimer’s
  • Getting 30 minutes of activity most days of the week to boost circulation to the brain
  • Maintaining a strong social network
  • Eating a diet rich in berries, other fruits and omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, mackerel, tuna and nuts)

Watch for and report these symptoms to your healthcare provider ASAP:

  • Forgetting information you recently learned
  • Having trouble with numbers or tasks like following a recipe
  • Forgetting how to drive to a familiar location or the rules of a favorite game
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Difficulty speaking, writing or participating in a conversation
  • Mood changes, such as becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious
January 2014