What Women Need to Know About the Big 3
Imagine going through life without an ache, pain and nothing to slow you down. Since there are no guarantees in life, women need to stay educated and in tune with their bodies to make a long, healthy life a possibility. Women need to take charge of their health and partner with their doctors by finding out their family medical history, educating themselves on health issues, and paying attention to their bodies. Understanding your body is key to staying healthy.
Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women. In women, heart disease is responsible for nearly 30 percent of deaths according to the CDC. The main concern is premature death and disability. Women are underdiagnosed. Many women do not feel well for years, such as being out of breath, or not being able to walk upstairs. Heart disease limits their ability to lead a healthy life. Many women will ignore these symptoms since they are focused on taking care of their family and home. Symptoms of heart disease can include chest pain, nausea, vomiting and shortness of breath. According to the American Heart Association, listed below are the risk factors for heart disease:
• High Blood Pressure
• Heredity, Family History
• High Cholesterol
• Increasing Age
• Lifestyle. It is important to control your
weight, exercise on a regular basis and
eat a plant-based diet.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Many women fear this diagnosis, which may prevent them from having a mammogram or following up with their doctor. Breast cancer is treatable. You should know your risk factors for breast cancer:
• Increasing age
• Genes: Nearly 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer is linked to mutations in certain gene.
• Family History: Although many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history.
• Race: Caucasian women have a slightly greater risk of getting breast cancer, although African American women have a greater chance of dying from this disease.
• Lifestyle: It is important to control your weight, exercise, quit smoking and limit alcohol.
Depression affects more women than men. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 12 million women are impacted by depression, which is double the amount compared to men. Hormones can trigger depression, especially after pregnancy, or around menopause. Women need to find a reason to get going every day. Family, pets, neighbors, work and volunteering can keep women engaged and limit depression. The healthiest adults are people in positive relationships. Risk factors for depression include:
• Family history
• Marital problems
• Eating disorder or anxiety disorder
• Substance abuse
• Daily stress, including worrying and being anxious
• Stressful life event, such as a death in the family or loss of job
• History of heart disease, chronic illness, or a recent diagnosis of serious illness
We know that women and men are just not the same, especially when it comes to health risks. The most important step to staying healthy is to understand your body and know what you are up against. Many of the leading health concerns for women are preventable. Take precautions by leading a healthy lifestyle, get preventative screenings and follow up with your doctor.
Tracey Leaver-Williams, M.D., FACOG is a Board Certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology with a Doctorate of Medicine University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, FL. Dr. Leaver-Williams and Hilton Head Regional OB/GYN Partners offer care for women throughout their lives—from their adolescent years to post menopause. Dr. Leaver-Williams is committed to provide compassionate, expert care for your wellness and maternal needs. For more information visit, www.hiltonheadobgyn.com, call 843-681-4977 or visit the Medical Pavilion, 25 Hospital Blvd., Suite 305, Hilton Head Island or Bluffton Medical Campus, 75 Baylor Drive, Bluffton.