As you celebrate Mother’s Day, your mom may be suffering from these health issues

In their 40s, many women tend to overlook their health due to the demands of their families and careers. Nevertheless, this is a crucial period for self-care, as a woman's health risks evolve with time.

BySumit Jha

Published May 14, 2023 | 10:50 PMUpdatedMay 14, 2023 | 10:51 PM

As you celebrate Mother’s Day, your mom may be suffering from these health issues

In their 40s, many women tend to overlook their health due to the demands of their families and careers.

Nevertheless, this is a crucial period for self-care, as a woman’s health risks evolve with time.

Upon entering their 40s, women may not experience changes, depending on their bodies.

Speaking to South First, doctors explained that women should keep in mind a set of specific factors during this stage of life to avoid health scares.

Heart disease

Many women in their 40s and 50s are not aware that heart disease poses a significant risk to their well-being, as heart attacks are commonly associated with older men.

Heart diseases occur when the cardiovascular system is not functioning properly, and can manifest as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, aneurysm, or stroke.

“Women’s risk of heart diseases increases during menopause due to the drop in oestrogen levels. This hormone usually acts as a guard against heart disease,” Hyderabad’s Yasoda Hospitals Consultant Physician Dr Rajesh Gude told South First.

“Other risk factors for heart disease include unhealthy eating habits, physical inactivity, smoking, and high cholesterol,” he added.

Vitamin deficiency

Vitamin deficiencies can be a concern at any age, particularly with the common American diet.

However, as women age, vitamin deficiencies become even more common and can lead to many symptoms and conditions.

“Vitamin D deficiency is especially prevalent and can contribute to increased bone-mass loss. Over the age of 40, women naturally experience this loss, but a vitamin D deficiency can accelerate the problem and lead to osteoporosis,” said Gude.

Low vitamin D has also been linked to depression and seasonal affective disorder. Other potential deficiencies include iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B.

Breast cancer

The risk of breast cancer significantly increases for women between the ages of 30 and 40.

While many factors — such as diet, overall health, and the environment — can contribute to the likelihood of developing breast cancer, age is also a factor.

At age 30, the chance of a woman developing breast cancer is much lower than at age 40, but the risk increases exponentially over a period of 10 years.

“Therefore, regular breast exams that are either self-performed or conducted by a doctor are crucial. Beginning annual mammograms can also reduce the risk of developing breast cancer and aid in early treatment if the disease does develop,” said Gude.

Blood clots

Blood clots can be a concern at any age, but women over 40 have a greater risk of developing them, and the signs are often unrecognised until it’s too late.

If a women experience swelling or pain in their calf, it’s essential to get it checked out as soon as possible, especially if there is redness and warmth to the touch.

“If this is the case, go to the emergency room or see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out a blood clot, which can be life-threatening if left untreated,” Hyderabad-based gynaecologist Dr Hemalata Rath told South First.

Diabetes

The risk of developing diabetes has increased exponentially in recent years across all age groups, but women aged 40 or older have an elevated risk.

Weight and diet play a role in diabetes, the sixth-leading cause of death for women between the ages of 45 and 54, making it crucial to get tested regularly.

“A healthy diet and regular exercise can help reverse the effects of prediabetes. Getting tested is easy, so it’s important not to wait too long,” said Gude.

Menopause

All women go through menopause at some point after the age of 40, and they also experience perimenopause (pre-menopause) during this time.

Perimenopause can affect women’s bodies in many ways, and it’s essential to know what a woman can do to alleviate the symptoms.

“Heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis can all develop in conjunction with menopause, so it’s important to pay close attention to the body and regularly communicate with the doctor to ensure that you do not have any serious medical concerns,” said Rath.

She added that menopause and premature menopause increase the risk of osteoporosis due to hormonal changes in estrogen and progesterone.

“To reduce the risk of osteoporosis, it’s important to engage in weight-bearing and muscle-building exercises, as well as consume adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D from the diet or supplements,” said Rath.

She added that in women, one disease is interlinked with another.

Adult-onset asthma

“Adult-onset asthma is not just a childhood disease. Hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause and menopause can contribute to its onset,” said Rath.

Symptoms of asthma may include a persistent cough, wheezing, and difficulty catching the breath.

If a woman experiences these symptoms, she should seek medical attention as asthma is treatable and manageable.

Depression

Depression can occur at any age, but the physiological changes during menopause can increase the risk of depression in middle-aged women.

Symptoms of depression may include a loss of interest in enjoyable activities, feelings of hopelessness or despair, severe fatigue, digestive issues, and irritability.

“Caregiving for ageing relatives can also increase the risk of depression, so developing a mental wellness plan that includes stress coping techniques and respite breaks can help minimise the risks,” said Rath.

She explained that it was always beneficial to be in touch with the doctor to assess the risks and seek mid-life care is crucial in reducing the risk of catastrophic events such as heart attacks and strokes.

“While some risk factors, such as genetics, cannot be changed, unhealthy habits can be addressed and modified to improve overall health and reduce the risk of common mid-life diseases,” said Rath.

How to identify these issues?

Doctors said that there are several tests women above 40 should consider to maintain their health and well-being.

Mammogram: A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast tissue and is used to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women above 40 should undergo mammograms once every one to two years.

Pap smear: A pap smear is a test that screens for cervical cancer. Women above 40 should undergo pap smears once every three years or as recommended by their healthcare provider.

Bone density scan: A bone density scan measures the strength of the bones and checks for signs of osteoporosis. Women above 40 should undergo bone density scans once every two years or as recommended by their healthcare provider.

Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy is a test that screens for colon cancer. Women above 40 should undergo colonoscopies once every ten years or as recommended by their healthcare provider.

Lipid profile: A lipid profile is a blood test that checks for cholesterol levels in the body. Women above 40 should undergo lipid profiles once every five years or as recommended by their healthcare provider.