There’s been a lot of research over time addressing the unique health needs of women. While health is a universal need, women’s health in particular has its own personality of sorts. By paying attention to these seven tips for women’s health you’ll stand a better chance of living a long and healthier life.
Heart health. Heart disease remains the number one killer of women in the United States, taking the lives of more than 300,000 women every year. Women’s heart health is about more than simply preventing heart attacks; high blood pressure, high cholesterol and lifestyle issues such as obesity significantly contribute to women’s heart health.
Pay attention to risk factors such as diet, smoking, diabetes, and activity level, all of which contribute to heart health. The American Heart Association recommends all adult women have their cholesterol levels checked every 4-6 years, and more often if they have other contributing issues such as diabetes or family history of heart disease.
Mental health. The leading cause of death for women ages 15 – 24 is suicide. While fewer women than men die by suicide, women attempt suicide three times as frequently as men. Mental illness affects women differently than men, and paying attention to your mental health is important. For all women, stress can cause both physical health problems as well as temporary mental health challenges that must be addressed.
At least, minimal mental health screening needs to be part of a routine general health screening. This can highlight potential risk factors (stress, lifestyle, hereditary issues that might predispose women to depression, and pre- or postpartum challenges) and help set up healthy changes.
Smoking. Women have now achieved equality with men when it comes to health effects of smoking. Smoking affects women’s health in many ways and often more seriously than it does men. Smoking women are 25 times more likely to die of lung cancer, and have a 3 times increased risk of heart disease.
For all women who smoke, it is important to be open with your healthcare professional and take advantage of support and medications that can help you quit. Periodic health screenings that address breathing issues and heart health as a direct effect of smoking can help you understand your risk factors and track your return to better health once you quit.
Breast health. One in eight American women will develop breast cancer sometime during their lifetime. Ever since the Women’s Health Initiative published their concerns about risks associated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), breast cancer deaths have been declining every year. While this is encouraging, it is important to continue to be vigilant.
Risk factors for breast cancer include family history, smoking, and obesity. Both genetic and age factors, as well as lifestyle contributing issues, need to be addressed in any routine comprehensive health screening especially for women over age 45.
Healthy weight. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Women who are overweight are at particularly high risk for things like heart disease and diabetes. Every health screening needs to include an evaluation of Body Mass Index (BMI), and recommendations for making positive lifestyle changes.
Diabetes. More than 200 million women have diabetes, and this number continues to rise. And because diabetes also affects unborn babies, it is a disease that is particularly hard on women. The rise of obesity also contributes to the growing diabetes problem, and diabetic women have a higher rate of heart disease than men.
Routine medical screenings for women must include a focused look at both genetic and lifestyle risk factors, as well as careful management if diabetes has been diagnosed. Diabetes screening even in asymptomatic women who have one or more risk factors such as genetic predisposition or obesity is essential in order to reduce the adverse health effects of this disease. A healthy diet and regular exercise are great ways to reduce risk of diabetes developing at any age.
Physical activity. Women who are determined to be healthy are finding ways to increase their physical activity by exercising at least 30 minutes every day. By including physical activity in a daily routine, women reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and blood sugar, better manage stress and even have healthier babies. Every routine health screening needs to include analysis of current physical activity levels and recommendations for increased exercise.
Women who wish to accomplish better health can work intentionally to address risk factors, understand their personal health history that may be affecting overall health, and make wise lifestyle choices. Health screenings that address the unique health challenges that women face are key to early detection and disease management, as well as support for positive healthy changes.
Please be sure to share this blog post to spread women’s health tips to your female friends and loved ones who may be struggling with their health.