Question #4: Why am I gaining weight?
After turning 40, most women need to eat much less and move more to maintain the weight they had when younger. With age your metabolism slows, estrogen level drops and muscle mass diminishes. Weight gain can also signal hypothyroidism - an under active thyroid. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include dry skin, fatigue and an inability to tolerate cold.
In normal thyroid function, the hypothalamus and pituitary activate the thyroid to release hormones. With hypothyroidism, the brain loses feedback from the thyroid and keeps trying to activate it, which results in the thyroid getting larger, creating a condition known as goiter.
If the muscles on the sides of your neck feel larger than usual, you might have a thyroid issue. Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to check for thyroid disease.
Question #3: How healthy is my heart?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. In addition to family history, the risk factors for heart disease include unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise and smoking,
High blood pressure is the #1 cause of heart attacks. Some pharmacies have blood pressure machines that allow you to check it yourself, along with your cholesterol and blood sugar numbers.
If you smoke, seek help from your doctor. Your chance of quitting successfully using medication is about 50% as opposed to 5% when you try on your own. For help quitting smoking, visit Dr. Oz's Kick the Habit Plan.
Get all the vital information women need about heart attacks here.