Alexandria, LA – There are more than 37 million people age 65 and older in the United States. This number is expected to grow to 88.5 million by 2050 – which may lead you to wonder, “Will I be healthy enough to enjoy those extra years?”

That depends. Various chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, are responsible for five of the six leading causes of death for older Americans.  The one non-chronic leading cause of death cited was influenza and pneumonia.

“Most of us now view the flu shot as an annual preventative approach to the flu; however, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of contracting the other five leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and lower respiratory diseases,” said Kim Lyons, Director for the Rapides Wound Healing Center.
“The question is, are you taking those steps?”

The Rapides Wound Healing Center suggests the following to detect and/or lessen chronic conditions:


  • One in five people over age 60 have diabetes. Diabetes tests should be taken if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • A panel created by the American Diabetes Association recommends that every diabetic over age 50 be tested for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) which narrows leg arteries and reduces blood flow. PAD is the circulatory disease most commonly associated with non-healing wounds and people with PAD are six times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than others.
  • Seek specialized treatment if you suffer from diabetic foot wounds.


  • Colorectal cancer screenings should begin at age 50 at take place every 10 years thereafter.
  • Older Americans should have a skin examination every year.
  • By age 50, men should discuss having a prostate test and exam with their doctors.
  • The American Cancer Society recommends that women over 50 should have mammograms once a year. Those who are 65 and older and have had at least three normal Pap tests and no abnormal Pap tests in the last 10 years should ask their doctor if they can stop having Pap tests.

Heart Disease

  • Have your cholesterol checked at least once every five years.
  • Substantial health benefits occur with a moderate amount of activity on five or more days of the week. The most recent census study showed exercise, walking specifically, is the most popular sports activity for older Americans.


  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly since it is the most important risk factor for strokes.
  • Reduce your alcoholic intake: more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or more than two drinks a day for men can raise blood pressure.

Respiratory Disease

  • Stop smoking.  It is responsible for 80 to 90 percent of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“By following these recommendations, you can enjoy a longer life by being in control of your health”, Lyons said.  “Your primary care physician can help answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding these conditions.”

Rapides Wound Healing Center is the leader in wound healing and disease management.  We are located at Rapides Regional Medical Center, 211 Fourth Street, Alexandria, La. Our phone number is (318) 769-4500.