Preventive health activities for people in their 40s

Prevention is important at every age. Preventive activities are best when they are targeted at the person’s age and individual risk factors. Consider the activities that are relevant for each person as outlined in the RACGP ‘red book’.1

There is an opportunity in primary care to prevent the growing burden of chronic disease by targeting people in their 40s. In this age group, many people may neglect their health as career and family responsibilities take precedence. The incidence of chronic disease is generally low, which means there are limited GP encounters compared with older people. However, while 74% of 25–44-year-olds report no chronic disease this will decrease to 47% of 45–64-year-olds.2

The prevalence of lifestyle risk factors for chronic disease is high in Australia, with over 50% having two or three risk factors.3 By targeting people in middle age you can help identify risk factors that might lead to development of chronic disease. Targeting people in middle age gives them the means and opportunity to make the necessary lifestyle changes that may protect them from chronic disease as they age.

For people in middle age, focus preventive activities on early detection and management of risk factors and chronic disease.1

Recommended preventive activities for people in their 40s:

  • assist adults in making the necessary lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the development of chronic disease4
  • improve frequency of SNAPW behavioural risk factors
  • undertake evidence-based risk assessments (as outlined in the RACGP red book)
  • identify people who may require cancer screening.

Appropriate activities for people in their 40s

The type and frequency of assessments and tests will depend on the person’s risk factors for chronic disease and family and medical history.

As a minimum, the following activities are recommended for people in their 40s who have no known risk factors:

  • review lifestyle risk factors
  • assess diabetes risk using a validated tool such as AUSDRISK
  • monitor blood pressure
  • calculate absolute cardiovascular risk using a tool such as the Australian Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk Calculator from age 45 (35 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples)
  • screen for cervical cancer.

Additional preventive activities may be appropriate for people at increased developing chronic disease.

Refer to the RACGP red book for more details on the types of tests and frequency.

For more information

References

  1. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice (The red book) 8th edn. Melbourne: RACGP, 2012. www.racgp.org.au/Content/NavigationMenu/ClinicalResources/RACGPGuidelines/TheRedBook/redbook_7th_edition_May_2009.pdf (accessed 11 February 2013).
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Chronic diseases. AIHW, 2012. www.aihw.gov.au/chronic-diseases/ (accessed 10 January 2012).
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Risk factors contributing to chronic disease. 2012. www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737421466 (accessed 13 February 2013).
  4. Renehan AG, Howell A. Preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Lancet 2005;365:1449–51. [PubMed]