Multiple health issues affect women throughout life differently from men (or do not affect men at all). Although attention to women’s health is important in all stages in life, health among middle-aged and elderly women has not received enough attention by researchers and policy-makers. To improve women’s quality of life and promote a long-lasting and active role for middle-aged and elderly women in society, prevention of chronic diseases and disability is key. Based on the best available science and the Global Burden of Disease study, the top eleven major health issues in peri- and postmenopausal women were found to be: cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal diseases, cancer, dementia, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression, vasomotor symptoms or hot flashes, sleep disturbances and migraine. Most but not all of these conditions are closely related to menopause. In menopause many, if not all, health issues are connected to changing estrogen levels. So, stabilizing hormonal levels seems an obvious strategy to prevent and treat menopausal health issues. Most guidelines for health problems affecting menopausal women describe optimizing/improving nutrition and lifestyle as – the first-option for prevention and treatment. In particular, poor diet, physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking are related to negative outcomes on most of the described conditions. For instance, a Mediterranean diet is associated with low mortality (higher longevity) and reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, including cancer, the metabolic syndrome, depression and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Some dietary components, such as olive oil, antioxidants, omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated acids, polyphenols and flavonoids, offer beneficial anti-aging effects (anti-chronic diseases and increased longevity). Likewise, physical activity is a potent tool for health promotion and disease prevention in perimenopausal women as well as in the population as a whole. Unfortunately, less than half of the population regularly participates in physical activity at even the minimal level required for health benefits, and adherence to physical activity guidelines is even lower among women ages 40 to 60. All clinicians should prescribe regular physical activity to their patients and enhance their ongoing efforts to promote physical activity among midlife women.
Top 11 Health Issues for Middle-Aged and Elderly Women
About the Author: Dean Smith, DC, PhD
Dean Smith, DC, PhD, husband, and father of two children, is a highly respected health and wellness authority. He is a chiropractor at Essence of Wellness Chiropractic Center and a researcher and clinical professor at Miami University. Dr. Smith incorporates lifestyle intervention (exercise, nutrition, other non-drug methods) with chiropractic adjustments and other manual methods to encourage optimal wellness. He has helped countless adults and children lead a life of wellness. His research interests lie broadly in the area of human movement and coordination. He is most interested in how chiropractic, exercise and rehabilitation affect human performance. His scientific articles have been published in such journals as Human Movement Science, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Chiropractic Research Journal, Chiropractic and Osteopathy and The Open Neurology Journal. His training includes a Master’s degree in exercise science, a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and a PhD in brain and cognitive science with a focus on motor control and coordination. The International Federation of Sports Chiropractic has awarded him with the International Chiropractic Sport Science Diploma (ICSSD).