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Recommended Health Screening And Prevention Steps
For Women Ages 65+

This "settling down" age is a great time to continue your healthy habits. If you neglect a routine of eating well and staying fit, disease can threaten your health during this time.

Maintaining mobility is even more important now, so you will need a lifestyle that keeps your senses alert and your body strong and flexible to avoid disabling falls. At this age your body has become less tolerant of extreme activity, so establish a moderate exercise routine, with your health care professional's approval.

Sleep patterns change as we age, but disturbed sleep and waking up tired every day is not part of normal aging. In fact, troubled sleep may be a sign of emotional or physical disorders and is something you should talk about with a health care professional or sleep specialist.

If you smoke, this is the time to quit. Smoking can lead to lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

Monitoring your heart health is vital at this time. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:

  • About 14 million women aged 65 and older have high blood pressure.
  • Most women over age 65 have obvious heart disease or "silent" atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries"). In silent atherosclerosis, there are no symptoms, but fatty plaques have built up in arteries. Lowering cholesterol is especially important to keep heart disease and atherosclerosis from worsening.
  • Each year, about 314,000 women aged 65 and older have a heart attack.
  • The average age for women to have a first heart attack is about 70. Also, women are more likely than men to die within a few weeks of a heart attack.

Although your eating habits have likely changed, your body still has basic nutritional needs. You'll need the same regimen of vitamins (and in some cases more) to maintain a general sense of well-being. Ask your health care professional about a healthy diet for you.

Aspirin is recommended for women ages 55 to 79 when the potential to prevent an ischemic stroke outweighs the potential increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. There is insufficient evidence at this time regarding the risks and benefits of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease in men and women 80 years and older.

The following screening and preventive steps should be followed in consultation with your health care professional:


How Often

Blood Pressure

Every two years — 18 years of age and older

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Periodically — 18 years of age and older


Every 1 to 2 years — women 40 years of age and older


Beginning at 50 years of age to 75 years of age — yearly screening with high-sensitivity stool test for blood, OR sigmoidoscopy every 5 years with high sensitivity stool test for blood every 3 years, OR colonoscopy every 10 years. Talk with your doctor about what type of screening is right for you and any benefits of screening over 75 years of age.

Hepatitis C virus

Once — Adults born between 1945 and 1965. People at high risk for infection should also be screened.

Osteoporosis (bone density test)

Routinely — women age 65 and older

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Once — 15-65 years of age. Talk with your doctor about when screening should be repeated.


Routinely — 18 years of age and older

Alcohol Misuse

Routinely — 18 years of age and older

Tobacco Use

Routinely — 18 years of age and older

Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis (Td/Tdap)

1 dose Tdap, then Td every 10 years — 19 years of age and older


One dose — 60 years of age and older


Every flu season


One dose — 65 years of age and older

The preventive health screenings are based on the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) as of 7/23/13. The vaccine recommendations are based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of 2/18/13.

*Based on the breast cancer screening recommendations of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as of 2/18/13

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