Written on February 1, 2023 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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As women age, their healthcare needs evolve. Staying active and enjoying life requires understanding your health risks and staying proactive. A proactive approach to your health means knowing what diseases are likely to affect you, when to see your healthcare provider, how to incorporate sustainable, healthy lifestyles, and which biomarkers are most important.
Biomarkers are measurable physical characteristics, such as blood pressure, which indicates heart health, and genes, which can indicate cancer risk . If you are a woman over 60, you have distinct biomarkers that can measure your health and disease risk . You and your healthcare provider can monitor your biomarkers over time to assess your disease risk and health status.
This article explains some diseases and biomarkers you should know if you are a woman over 60 or taking care of a woman over 60. You will also learn about the benefits of using Everlywell's at-home wellness tests and virtual healthcare for women over 60.
Cardiovascular health refers to the health of your heart and blood vessels. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for women . Heart disease includes several conditions affecting the heart and vessels, including acute coronary syndrome (heart attack), atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeats), and atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) . Women over 60 are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease .
One of the most important biomarkers of cardiovascular health is blood pressure . Everyone should strive to keep their blood pressure below 130/80 mm/Hg . Another critical biomarker for heart health is high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a protein produced by the liver that indicates the presence of inflammation in your body. Heart disease risk and recovery are predicted by hs-CRP levels . An elevated level of hs-CRP indicates possible heart disease . Everlywell's at-home heart health test will help you determine your hs-CRP levels.
Triglyceride levels are a biomarker of cardiovascular health . Triglycerides are the primary fat found in the blood. High levels of triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are some proactive tips for improving your heart health [3,6,7]:
An increasing number of older adults are developing diabetes, with 25% having diabetes and 50% having prediabetes . Women with diabetes over 60 are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, and urinary incontinence . A biomarker to track your diabetes is your hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) level, which measures how well you manage your blood sugar levels . Keeping the healthy habits listed above can also help prevent and manage diabetes.
A woman over 60 has a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC), the second leading cause of cancer death . The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) and American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) recommend a colonoscopy every ten years starting at 45 years of age [11,12]. If you're over 75, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to continue having colonoscopies .
The USPTF and ACG also recommend having a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year [11,12]. A FIT checks your stool for blood, which may indicate colon cancer [11,12]. You can determine your colon cancer risk from the comfort of your own home with Everlywell's FIT test.
The most common cancer among women is breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer . Having mutations in your BRCA 1 and 2 genes can increase your lifetime risk of cancer by 45-87% . At age 60 or above, you should have a mammogram every two years . However, if you are a woman over 60 with a mutation in the BRCA 1 or 2 gene, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends an MRI and mammogram every year until 75 years .
Besides your genes, the following habits can increase your risk of breast cancer :
Hormones are chemical messengers that send instructions to various parts of the body. The following are some of the key hormones women over 60 need to know:
Everlywell offers at-home wellness tests and virtual care visits to provide insight into your health. Everlywell offers an at-home Women's Health Test that evaluates 11 biomarkers associated with health and wellness. Women over 60 can benefit from virtual healthcare and Everlywell's easy-to-understand, secure, and actionable online test results.