As women race through their days, many don’t stop to focus on their own health and well-being. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health has designated May 8-14 as Women’s Health Week. This marks the 17th time the week has been recognized in an effort to encourage women to take ownership of their health.
While women’s health concerns may change as they age, five of the top health concerns faced by women include:
Heart disease. Heart disease accounts for more than 22 percent of female deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are multiple contributing factors to heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Exercise and other healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Cancer. The Susan G. Komen foundation shares that one in eight women who lives to the age of 85 is at risk for breast cancer. Fortunately, with early detection, survival rates can be quite high. To protect themselves, women regularly should be completing self-breast exams, scheduling routine mammograms and seeking testing to see if they have any markers that could signify malignant tumors in any area of the body.
Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases. This is often more recognizable as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and includes both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. While pollutants and chemical toxins may contribute to the development of these diseases, smokers get COPD nearly 12 times as frequently as non-smokers.
Stroke. Strokes are caused by blood clots that prevent blood from reaching the brain. According to Harvard Medical School, high blood pressure is the No. 1 risk factor for developing blood clots. Be sure to have your blood pressure checked regularly, especially if you are a smoker or using oral contraception. In addition, having a healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, can help reduce the chance of developing a blood clot.
Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Age, family history and heredity are the most common risk factors. While there is still much to learn about the disease, scientists are looking at the impact of exercise, diet and brain-engaging activities as potential ways to help keep the disease at bay.
So, ladies, celebrate Women’s Health Week by becoming more informed about the state of your own health, working with a doctor to address any issues and making lifestyle changes that will help you live your healthiest life yet!