5 Health Problems That Can Strike at Any Age

5 Health Problems That Can Strike at Any Age

WHOA! 5 Major Health Problems That Can Strike At Any Age

(AscendHealthy.com) – When we’re young, we may assume that our good health will last forever. But many disorders strike without warning at any age — and some of these dangerous conditions may have no symptoms. Discover how to reduce your risk factors for five of those health problems below.

Do Health Problems Only Affect Older People?

Ever notice that our definition of “old” seems to shift as we age? Pre-teens view “old” as the teenage years, while teens think “old” means ages 20 and older. And so it goes, with most of us assuming we can postpone worrying about health problems until we’re, ahem, “older.”

Increasingly, however, some health problems are affecting young adults. Moreover, our lifestyle at any age may increase our risk for potentially life-threatening concerns, such as stroke.

Discover if you’re at risk for any of the five following dangerous health problems that may strike at any age.

1. High Blood Pressure: Why It’s the “Silent Killer”

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects nearly 50 percent of adults in the United States. Some of them are as young as 20.

Many with hypertension have no idea their blood pressure is too high, leading to the disease’s nickname: the “silent killer.” Although we may not experience symptoms, hypertension may harm our brain, kidneys, and heart, raising our risk for heart attacks, strokes, and aneurysms.

The problem with becoming hypertensive when we’re young? We are less apt to discover the condition and receive treatment.

Risk factors include:

  • A diet that contains too much salt
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Excess alcohol (recommendations limit women to one drink daily and men to two)
  • Smoking

Bottom line: The lack of symptoms makes regular blood pressure checks essential for all ages and stages. We might reduce our risk, from limiting the salt in our diet to exercising regularly.

2. Type 2 Diabetes: Do You Know the Causes?

Just as with high blood pressure, we may have type 2 diabetes without experiencing symptoms. According to the CDC, 88 million Americans, or 1 in 3 adults, have prediabetes — and of those, 8 in 10 are unaware they have the condition, which can develop into type 2 diabetes without lifestyle changes.

Moreover, type 2 diabetes among young people is rising, which is alarming because it might make younger diabetics twice as likely to experience a heart attack.

Risk factors include:

  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Excess fast food
  • Too many sugary drinks
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Race (women who are Hispanic, African-American, or Native American have quadruple the risk of developing type 2 diabetes)

Takeaway: We can control some of the risk factors for diabetes, but others, such as our heritage, we can’t change. If you have any of the risk factors, talk with your doctor about getting screened.

3. Strokes: Are You at Risk?

We typically hear about people in their late 60s, 70s, and 80s suffering strokes. That makes the statistics about younger women all the more shocking.

Women between the ages of 15 to 49 have strokes annually at a rate of one in 5,000. Those between the ages of 18 to 34 have recently experienced a 32 percent increase in strokes.

Risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Birth control pills
  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Family history
  • Sedentary lifestyle

The upside: We have many ways to reduce our risk of stroke. Those methods include stopping smoking, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and exercising. If you have risk factors for stroke, talk with your doctor for guidance.

4. Colon and Rectal Cancer: It’s Rising in Young People

Colon and rectal cancer, also referred to as colorectal cancer, increasingly are occurring in younger people. Experts have blamed our modern diets, sedentary lifestyles, and gut microbiome changes. Whatever the cause, one thing is clear: this cancer, though rare, can hit at any age.

We can’t control all the risk factors, such as having a relative who had colorectal cancer. But we can manage the lifestyle factors. Our diet, weight, and exercise play key roles in our risk for colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Risk factors include:

  • An unhealthy weight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excess red and processed meat
  • Smoking

Remember: We can significantly lower our risk of colorectal cancer through lifestyle changes. If your bowel habits suddenly shift or you notice blood in your bowel movements, seek guidance from your healthcare provider.

5. Brain Shrinkage: When Does It Happen?

As we age, our brains become smaller. Those changes impact our ability to process information and remember details.

Two main risk factors may cause our brains to shrink faster than normal:

  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of exercise

Researchers recently discovered that our level of exercise and blood pressure when we’re in our 30s and 40s may help to determine our brain volume later in life. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure and exercising regularly during those decades may prevent our brains from shrinking more rapidly than normal as we age.

Experts estimate that, on average, our brains shrink 5 percent every 10 years after our 40th birthday. In addition to exercise and healthy blood pressure, we can avoid more rapid brain shrinkage by eating a diet linked to higher brain weight:

  • Generous servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Dairy
  • Fish
  • Minimal servings of sugary drinks

Brain boosters: We may help to avoid rapid brain shrinkage by exercising, maintaining healthy blood pressure, and eating a high-quality diet.

As we’ve seen above, hypertension, strokes, colorectal cancer, and type 2 diabetes may strike at any age. And although brain shrinkage begins after we turn 40, our lifestyle earlier in life may affect our brain volume as we age.

All five health problems have something in common: Many of their risk factors offer clues to how we can improve our lifestyle, such as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.

Whatever our age, we can make positive changes to affect our well-being now and in the future. As always, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before making any diet or exercise modifications.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension

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