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How Not to Die In Your 40s

When a 45-year-old male patient comes into my clinic focused on preventing their major causes of death and disease, they rarely think about accidents and suicide. Those are, in fact, the major causes of death in this age group. Here are some ideas based on current US stats for how not to die in your 40s.

Sure, preventing heart disease and cancer is quite important at this age. Most will already have done what it takes to address dementia and diabetes. But focusing on preventing heart disease at the age of 60 when you have a more immediate risk of dying in your 40s wouldn’t make sense.

Addressing Accidents as The Leading Cause of Death

Getting hit by a car while walking around as a pedestrian or on your bicycle would be the classic accident risk. This is followed by getting into a car accident and suffering a fatal injury there.

Accidents can also happen when people climb up on their roofs, fall off mountains, and drown in the ocean.

Prevention is quite important. When biking, it’s wise to pick safer routes and be aware of your surroundings. Helmets can help in some cases, but just as seat belts won’t do much for you at 80 mph, a helmet can only do so much.

If you decide to climb on your roof, you should know what you’re doing. Most of the contractors I’ve hired don’t understand the importance of placing a ladder or 3-point contact as outlined by OSHA.

Preventing Car Accidents

The less you drive, the less likely you are to get into a car accident. However, if you drive less, you might walk and bike more, and depending on your city, your risks may increase.

It’s helpful to consider which intersections are danger zones and avoid them. The time of day you choose to travel can also make a difference.

Avoiding alcohol, medications, and drowsy and distracted driving will also make it much more likely that you’ll survive your next accident.

Car accident prevention strategies:

  1. Take public transportation when possible
  2. Avoid driving a car when possible
  3. Drive newer cars with better safety protocols
  4. Get an Uber if you are impaired
  5. Don’t drive if you feel the drive is hard
  6. Avoid tough driving conditions
  7. Acoid high-speed areas on your bike
  8. Don’t drive, bike, or walk angry

Suicide Prevention

Fortunately, unlike other medical conditions, suicide is often preceded by depression. If you are dealing with depressive symptoms and/or compensating with substance use, suicide should be high on the list of conditions to prevent.

I dealt with depression in medical school, so it is incredibly likely that at some point in my life, I will deal with it again. The difference is that I’ve learned better coping mechanisms, but nobody is immune from depression.

Preventative actions to take:

  1. Develop skills in expressing your feelings
  2. Grow your close circle of friends, the types who won’t leave you when you are going through tough times
  3. Get help for substance use or abuse of any sort
  4. Start a suicide prevention strategy
  5. Minimize exposure to toxic people and environments

Lowering Mortality Risk in Your 40s

Diabetes is also a high-risk condition in your 40s, and so is obesity. But those side effects work their way into our health later in our lives.

When it comes to cancer, it’s important to talk about something many don’t want to hear: cancer isn’t always preventable, and it simply can be a chance somatic mutation.

Fortuantely, the data points toward mutations being closely connected to our lifestyles and exposures. So, even though cancer may not be 100% preventable, it’s worth taking steps in the right direction.

The Joy of Living

Nothing I’ve mentioned so far is of value if a person cannot be in the moment and enjoy life. The joy of being alive and the peace of living in the moment trump any plans or desires to live as long as possible.

At Digital Nomad Health, we don’t worry too much about longevity; many longevity practices out there do a much better job of that. However, we are committed to helping our patients prevent chronic disease when possible.

All of this is so that my patients can be more present, more alive, and enjoy what they are doing in life.

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