Is SIXTY the new 40? The perimenopause (and postmenopause) is an important time to review a woman’s preventive health profile and for identifying interventions to prevent illness, maintain quality of life, promote longevity, and address menopausal symptoms. What else can healthcare professionals suggest or women do to maximize postmenopausal health?
The postmenopause is associated with increased risks of cancer, osteoporosis and bone fracture, heart disease, diabetes, and the development of cognitive impairment or dementia. These are significant conditions that affect both longevity and quality of life.
For women: ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to age in the healthiest way? See the recommendations below.
For healthcare professionals: consider the following recommendations and interventions:
- Review your patient’s preventive cancer screening in accordance with your local health guidelines, such as pap testing, mammograms and colon cancer screening.
- Discuss bone health. Fractures in older women contribute significantly to both morbidity and mortality.
- Does your patient need a fracture assessment? Consider the FRAX tool and/or bone mineral density testing (BMD) to assess fracture risk. (eg. BMD in low-risk women starting at age 65).
- Discuss prevention: adequate dietary protein, adequate intake of calcium and Vitamin D, weight bearing exercise and resistance training. Women should calculate their present intake of calcium to assess the need for supplementation as most women’s intake is insufficient. More information and a calcium calculator can be found here.
- Consider cardiovascular health
- Assess smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise habits.
- Assess for obesity. Aim to maintain an ideal body weight (BMI 18-25). Obesity is associated with risk of heart disease, venous thromboembolism and a variety of cancers including breast cancer.
- Take a waist measurement as central adiposity confers metabolic risk.
- Obtain annual blood pressure readings. Treat hypertension.
- Order blood tests for lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and diabetes (hemoglobin A1C) at a frequency consistent with local guidelines.
- Encourage heart healthy lifestyle interventions such as the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7”.
- Consider brain health. Many of the recommendations for brain health echo those for heart health! Evidence for some helpful interventions include:
- Healthy diet: consider a Mediterranean-type diet, superfoods, cruciferous vegetables.
- Promote adequate sleep duration: ideally between 7 and 8 hrs a night.
- At least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise. This increases BDNF, an important brain molecule related to learning and memory.
- Consider adding strength training for the large muscles of the upper and lower body (20 minutes 3 x a week) for further benefit.
- Stimulate the brain: learn new skills, listen to podcasts, develop new hobbies.
- Manage stress effectively.
- Treat depression.
- Encourage a positive/optimistic attitude.
- Engage in social interaction!
- Minimize exposure to air pollution.