Women’s Health Issues
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is dedicated to providing information about the disease in the effort to save lives. However, in addition to breast cancer, women are affected by other health conditions. Unfortunately, many females focus on keeping their spouses and children healthy, failing to do the same for themselves. Others simply don’t know the signs to watch out for in order to diagnose a disease before it is too late. Three of the top ailments affecting women are heart disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis, which we will talk about in this article.
Although most people think of heart attacks whenever they hear anything related to heart disease, the condition involves more than that, such as “coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, and heart failure,” according to WebMD. This is the leading cause of death in both sexes, and accounts for the death of one in every four women, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The main issue with this dangerous disease is that the symptoms women experience are often hard to detect. Some women experience no signs of heart disease at all until it gets so advanced that they have a heart attack, a stroke or heart failure. The frightening statistics, as offered by the 2012 report in Circulation, are that about two-thirds of women with no reported symptoms die suddenly from coronary heart disease. It is imperative for all females to learn the possible symptoms of heart disease in order to talk to a doctor if they feel that they may experience any signs.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
- Angina – Strange feeling or pain in the chest
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, shoulder, upper abdomen and/or back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
Some women are more susceptible to this disease than others; Caucasian and African American women, especially those that have a family history of heart disease, and those that smoke, are obese, have diabetes and high blood pressure and cholesterol are most at risk.
Heart Disease Prevention
In order to try and prevent heart disease from affecting you, follow this guide:
- Avoid smoking and too much alcohol
- Eat healthy
- Check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Avoid stress
According to The National Cancer Institute, breast cancer follows skin cancer as the most typical form of cancer. Annually, 230,000 women are affected by the condition, while only about 2,300 men are. Unlike with heart disease, breast cancer is easier to diagnose; typically, it is found when conducting a mammogram or finding a lump in the breast. There are various stages of the condition, from the beginning stages, which have high rates of recovery, to later stages, which are more difficult to treat.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer, according to WebMD
- Lump in the breast or underarm
- Armpit swelling
- Painful or sensitive breast
- Breast indentation
- Change in the size, color, texture of the breast or nipple
- Unusual discharge
Types of Breast Cancer
- Ductal Carcinoma – Cancer that forms in the ducts that carry milk; if it remains in the ducts, it is a noninvasive cancer, if it spreads out of the ducts, it is invasive.
- Lobular Carcinoma – Cancer that starts in the lobules that produce breast milk; if it stays in the lobules, it is noninvasive, if it spreads it is then invasive.
- Sarcoma – Cancer that starts in the connective tissues of the breast, such as blood vessels, muscles and fat.
Breast Cancer Prevention
If you feel any of the symptoms listed above, you must contact a medical professional to screen for breast cancer. However, it is possible to try and prevent breast cancer with these tips:
- Limit alcohol and don’t smoke
- Eat a healthy diet and watch your weight
- Limit exposure to pollution and radiation
Eighty percent of all Americans who suffer from osteoporosis are female, cites the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Eight million women are affected by this condition, which causes half of all cases where a bone is broken after the age of 50. Women have smaller and thinner bones, which is why they get this condition at a much higher rate than men do. Furthermore, when females undergo menopause, their estrogen levels plummet, which causes bone loss. This condition mostly affects Caucasian women 50 and older, but females of all ethnicities and ages can be at risk.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
The trouble with this condition is that no signs are visible when people start to experience bone loss; however, once the condition has become more severe, the following symptoms may occur:
- Reverse growth (getting shorter)
- Back pain
- A fracture
- Stooped posture
To prevent osteoporosis, females should:
- Maintain calcium levels – Calcium is required for strong bones, which means that women should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day up until the age of 50, and 1,200 milligrams afterward.
- Maintain Vitamin D levels – This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium; depending on an individual’s age, skin color and geographic location, anywhere from 600-4,000 international units (IU) a day may be required.
- Exercise – Staying active will not only help you to build strong bones, but it will also help you to maintain the bone strength you have.
Osteoporosis, breast cancer and heart disease are some of the most pressing health concerns affecting women today. It is important to know the warnings signs of each condition, and contact a physician to get diagnosed if any warning signs occur. However, all women should try and prevent these conditions by living a healthy lifestyle.