Harvard Guide to Women's Health Fifty and Forward Focuses on Prevention

A Guide to Women's Health 50 and Forward by Harvard Health PublicationsThe Harvard Medical School Special Health Report, A Guide to Women’s Health: Fifty and Forward, presents a basic overview of the changes in major health risks that women face as they age, and focuses particularly on lifestyle changes that women can make to maintain good health in later years.

According to a description of the Report provided by the publisher, Harvard Health Publications,

“This report focuses on health, not disease. It won’t tell you how to get the best treatments for serious conditions. But it will help you determine the conditions for which you are at greatest risk and do your best to avoid them. It will also help you to better manage chronic conditions that may erode your quality of life, and to deal with physical changes that are more bothersome than serious. It is designed to give you the information to make the choices today that will ensure you the best health possible tomorrow.”

The Report, which is 48 pages long, was prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Celeste Robb-Nicholson, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Associate Chief, General Internal Medicine Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Editor in Chief, Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

Changing Health Risks as Women Age

According to the authors, the principal health risks and causes of death for women change as they age. The top three causes of death for women of all ages combined are cancer, heart disease, and stroke. However, the relative prevalence of these causes (expressed as a percentage of total deaths of women) changes as women age.

Cancer is the leading cause of death for all women who die younger than 75 years of age. But, heart disease becomes more prevalent as women age, and is the leading cause of death for women age 75 and over. Stroke also becomes more prevalent as a cause of death, being the third most prevalent cause of death for women age 75 or over.

The following chart from the Harvard Report shows the top 10 causes of death (expressed as a percentage of total deaths) in women at different ages. It illustrates how the risk of the three leading causes of death for all ages combined — heart disease, stroke, and cancer — changes with age.

Chart showing changes in leading causes of death for women at different ages - from Harvard Health Publications, A Guide to Women's Health Fifty and Forward

Contents of Harvard Guide – A Focus on Prevention

Following is a summary of the contents of Harvard’s Special Health Report, A Guide to Women’s Health: Fifty and Forward:

  1. Taking stock of your health at midlife
  2. Understanding your health risks
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Stroke
    • Lung cancer
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Accidents
    • Breast cancer
    • Diabetes
    • Influenza and pneumonia
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Ovarian cancer
  3. SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: 10 steps to a longer and healthier life
  4. Minimizing potentially disabling disorders
    • Osteoporosis
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Foot problems
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Underactive thyroid
    • Pelvic organ prolapse
    • Incontinence
    • Skin conditions
    • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  5. Coping with chronic conditions
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Vaginal pain
  6. Managing bothersome problems
    • Persistent menopausal symptoms
    • Dry skin
    • Wrinkles
    • Rosacea
    • Hair loss
    • Excessive hair growth
  7. Resources
  8. Glossary

Purchase of the Harvard Guide to Women’s Health Fifty and Forward

A Guide to Women’s Health: Fifty and Forward is available for purchase online from the publisher, Harvard Health Publications. The cost is $18.00 (print or PDF) or $26.00 for both print and PDF.

More Information

See related HelpingYouCare™ reports on:

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German Study Finds 30% of Breast Cancer Cases May be Prevented by Avoiding Hormone Therapy and Exercising More

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Caregivers Unite for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

New Patient Guides & Treatment Decision Aids Provided by AHRQ

For more information on lifestyle factors that promote wellness and help prevent diseases, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:


Copyright © 2012 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™. All rights reserved.


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