Every October, men, women, and professional athletes around the country wear pink to show their solidarity in the fight against breast cancer – one of the biggest threats to women’s health and well being. Breast cancer is certainly an epidemic and, according to statistics by the Susan G. Komen Organization, will develop over 250,000 new cases this year alone and over 40,000 deaths. Yet, while breast cancer is one of the biggest threats to women’s health, it is certainly not the only one.
National Women’s Health Week is observed from May 14-20 and its purpose is to enlighten women about taking an active role in their healthcare and understanding the risks they may face.
“Breast cancer is certainly one of the most well-documented and dangerous diseases facing our country today,” said Dr. Ann Snyder, Snyder-Hopkins Family Medicine Center. “However, it is of the utmost importance that women of all ages understand that there are other diseases that are equally as threatening. Staying educated and taking preventative maintenance against these diseases can often times make all the difference.”
The following diseases pose a threat to women’s health but can possibly be prevented with proper preventative care and treatment:
Heart Disease – Heart disease is a very serious condition among women, accounting for over one-quarter of female deaths and nearly 500,000 annually. While heart disease is prevalent, it’s certainly not as well known of a health issue for women. Fortunately, there are numerous lifestyle and habitual changes that can be made to help prevent the onset of heart disease. First and foremost, quitting (or not taking up) smoking is the biggest contributor. Also, eating a well-balanced and healthy diet, full of nutrients and vitamins can help your body fight disease. In addition, staying physically active can help keep the heart healthy and disease free. It’s also important to be tested for heart disease, simply because it can be hereditary and affect those who are already healthy.
Ovarian Cancer – As previously mentioned, the statistics for breast cancer are staggering and alarming, but this is not the only type of cancer that women are susceptible to. Ovarian cancer claims the lives of nearly 15,000 women on a yearly basis. While ovarian cancer will generally develop in older women, it’s important to be tested by your physician to determine if you’re susceptible to it.
Stroke – Strokes pose a major threat for women, accounting for nearly 8 percent of yearly deaths in the United States. They also are the primary cause for long-term disability for women as well. While both men and women are susceptible to having strokes, keeping blood pressure low, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising frequently can help lessen the chances of stroke throughout your lifetime.
COPD – COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is mostly caused by smoking and will generally include bronchitis and emphysema. COPD causes shortness of breath and can limit one’s ability to stay active. Again, it’s imperative to not smoke, as this is one of the greatest contributors to COPD. Maintaining regular activity and healthy diet should help you steer clear of this disease.
At Methodist McKinney Hospital, we know how important women’s health is for everyone, every day of the week. If you ever have a question about your health or are looking for a new primary care physician to help get you and your family back on the right track, call us at 972-569-2700.