Multiple health issues affect women throughout the life course differently from men, or do not affect men at all. Although attention to women's health is important in all stages in life, health among middle-aged and elderly women has not received sufficient attention by scientists and policy-makers. Related to the menopausal transition and the experiences accumulated until that age, many diseases occur or further develop in middle-aged and elderly women. To improve women's quality of life and guarantee a long-lasting and active role for middle-aged and elderly women in society, prevention of chronic diseases and disability is a key aspect. In this manuscript we give an overview of the major health issues for pen- and post-menopausal women, we summarize risk factors and interventions to improve menopausal health. Based on the available scientific literature and the global burden of disease endeavor, we have selected and herein describe the following top 11 key health issues, selected in terms of burden exerted in women's mortality, morbidity, disability and quality of life: cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, cancer, cognitive decline and dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, depression, vasomotor symptoms, sleep disturbances and migraine. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.