You need medical checks from age 40 to avoid health ‘black hole’

In a new study, researchers found that a full health screening from around age 40 can enable people to make changes when problems first set in.

They suggest that people with that age should see a health professional even when they feel healthy.

The research was conducted by a team from Flinders University.

In the study, the team examined a group of 561 seemingly healthy adults aged 40 to 75 years.

The 21 health domains tested hearing, memory, lung function, foot sensation, balance, diet and physical activity.

The researchers found that there was an average of five unidentified health problems per person, including undiagnosed high blood pressure or early hearing loss.

About 30% of people with undiagnosed high blood pressure, 32% were experiencing memory and cognition problems, and 34% with undiagnosed functional hearing loss.

The team says that people in their middle years are being sucked into the black hole of aging.

Small reversible changes in health are accumulating unnoticed while people are time poor and their lives consumed by work and parenting.

These health problems often are not noticed and it’s too late for the individual to self-manage, and vastly more expensive to address.

The researchers suggest that the 40 and 50-year-olds need to check their health. Most of the health issues are amenable to change.

The team also found that many of the health issues were reversible and six months after getting their report, many can adopt health advice and experience better health.

Individualized screening and self-management recommendations do improve health, even among people who feel healthy. It also may save lives and money later on.

The researchers hope their new finding could empower and encourage people to stay well while avoiding frailty and reducing demand on hospital and health services.

One author of the study is Flinders Strategic Professor Sue Gordon, Chair of Restorative Care in Ageing.

The study is published in BMC Geriatrics.

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