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What to Expect in Your 70s and Beyond

The good and bad. Plus advice on feeling happy, sexy and pain-free

Keep Your Heart Strong

The Good News: Older hearts pump about the same volume of blood with each beat as younger hearts.

The Not-So-Good News: Your heart's walls are getting thicker and its valves are stiffer. One way to improve your heart health? Keep moving. Research recently showed that women and men age 70-plus who spent as little as a half hour a day on activities like walking and dancing had a 20 to 40 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported no activity.

What's Up With That? A skipped beat or a racing heart could be atrial fibrillation, a type of heart arrhythmia that becomes more common with age. Since it can increase the risk of stroke, mention it to your doctor. You should also say if you're experiencing unusual fatigue, weakness when exercising or dizziness.

What's Ahead: Heart disease incidence rises; it's the leading cause of death for people 75 through 84.

Take Fewer Nighttime Trips

The Good News: If you're generally healthy, your urological system likely functions pretty well. And an array of therapies can help when problems crop up.

The Not-So-Good News: Bladder tissue contracts and expands less efficiently as you get older, often leading to overactive bladder, incontinence and infection. About 60 percent of women in their 70s will experience some type of urinary incontinence. Ask your doctor about bladder training, medications and pelvic floor exercises ("Kegels"), which can strengthen the muscles around the bladder. More than half of men in their 70s experience symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Symptoms include a weak urine flow or difficulty urinating, but medications like tamsulosin and finasteride can help.

What's Up With That? Gotta go during the night? Not to worry; that's normal. "In their 60s, 80 percent of people need to get up at least once a night," says Ryan P. Terlecki, M.D., assistant professor of urology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And 25 to 35 percent of those in their 70s get up at least twice. Try decreasing fluids after 6 p.m. and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon. If you're on diuretics for high blood pressure, speak to your doctor about taking your pill in the morning.

What's Ahead: Urinary tract infections are common as you age. The counterintuitive advice? If you're not experiencing symptoms, sometimes it's better to do nothing. Antibiotics can clear up the infection, but they often disrupt other bacterial balances.

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