Savvy, skeptical and self reliant.
If this description resonates with you, you may be a member of Generation X, also known as “America’s neglected middle child,” the boomerang generation and the sandwich generation. Generation X adults were born between 1965 and 1980, after the infamous Baby Boomers and before Millennials, the largest generation in history.
Your late 30s and 40s are a time of transition. Some of the indicators of heart health — such as blood pressure, waistline and cholesterol — may begin to creep upward, putting you on notice that you cannot take your heart health for granted. You’ll also start noticing normal signs of aging, including graying hair, thinning skin and even your first few wrinkles.
Fortunately, moving into middle age is not synonymous with declining health. By paying attention to your lifestyle and mitigating disease risk factors, you can enter middle age with the deck stacked in your favor. Rest assured, you’re never too old to take care of your health. Here are a few strategies to get you started.
Develop a relationship with a primary healthcare provider.
Know your numbers. It’s important to know and track those five key measures of heart health. If you don’t already know your numbers, get a baseline measurement and then talk to your doctor about your risk factors.
1) Waist circumference, which measures abdominal obesity, should be less than 40 inches (men) or 35 inches (women)
2) Triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood)
3) HDL cholesterol should be 60 mg/dL or higher
4) Systolic blood pressure (top number) should be 120 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) or less, and diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) should be 80 mm Hg or less
5) Fasting blood glucose should be 100 mg/dL or less
Preventive strategies. Ask your doctor about age- and risk-appropriate screenings, immunizations and disease prevention measures.
Healthy lifestyle. Make sure you engage in regular physical activity, eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and drink alcohol only in moderation.
Manage stress. Long-term stress can harm your entire body and raise your risk for depression, anxiety and chronic illness. Find healthy ways to reduce and manage your stress.
Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, or have a large waist circumference, talk to your doctor about effective weight loss strategies.
Don’t smoke, or if you do, quit. Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease, death and disability.
Compile your family health history. Some diseases tend to run in families. While you can’t change your genetics, and a family history does not automatically mean you will develop the same diseases, knowing you have a predisposition allows you to take steps to lower your risks.
At Carilion Clinic, we help women be as healthy as possible through every stage of life. Right here in our own community, we have a full range of board-certified doctors and dedicated support staff. We offer preventive screening options, advanced diagnostic techniques, and cutting-edge treatment. All in an environment that is warm, personalized, and patient-centered.