Image is from Duke Health
It is common knowledge that men and women are different. They have physical differences, emotional differences, and behavioral differences. They also have many health differences. The major risks for women’s health differ from that of men. The best way for a woman to boost her health is to know the five medical conditions that are of the greatest risk to her.
Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women. According to the CDC, heart disease is responsible for 29 percent of deaths in women. While more men die of heart disease, more women go under-diagnosed. This is because women present with different symptoms than men. Some women will have the typical chest pain when having a heart attack, however, some have symptoms such as jaw pain shoulder aches, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath. There are several factors for women developing this disease.
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Overweight or obesity
Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women. The best way for a woman to beat the cancer is early detection. Women who are over 35 or who have a family history of breast cancer should have annual mammograms. Women should also start doing self-breast exams as early as their teens. There are several risk factors for breast cancer.
- Genetic mutation
- Family history
- Personal history of cancer
- Race (white women have a greater risk than African-American women
- Abnormal breast biopsies
- Never giving birth
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, Osteoporosis affects 44 million Americans each year. Of that number, 68 percent of them are women. Osteoporosis causes brittle bones, a hunched back, and bone loss. The behaviors that women develop when they are children and throughout their teens plays a significant role in the development and progression of the disease. There are several risk factors for this disease.
- Female sex
- Small boned
- Ethnicity (White and Asian women are more prone)
- Diet low in calcium and vitamin D
- Family history
- History of eating disorder
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 12 million women are diagnosed with depression each year, as opposed to the only 6 million men. Depression can be triggered by hormonal changes or lack of connection with other in their lives. Some women suffer from mild depression, some suffer from clinical depression, and some suffer from bipolar depression. There are several other risk factors for any of these types of depression.
- Family history
- History of heart problems
- Chronic illness
- Substance abuse
- Relationship problems
- Childhood history of abuse
- Stressful events (job loss, death, divorce)
- Vitamin deficiency or thyroid disease
Autoimmune diseases attack the body’s immune system. They can also destroy or alter the body’s tissue. The most common types are lupus, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes. About 75 percent of the autoimmune diseases diagnosed occur in women. Unfortunately, these types of diseases can be very difficult to diagnose. It is not uncommon for a woman to need multiple visits to multiple doctors to finally get the correct diagnosis. This is because we don’t know much about these diseases. It is still not known what makes the body attack itself. Until doctors and researchers have a better understanding of the disease, it will continue to pinpoint possible risk factors of developing an autoimmune disease.
The best defense that a woman has against developing any of the above conditions is to understand the risk factors. There are some lifestyle changes that a woman can make to reduce their risk of developing any of these conditions.