Women's Health Concerns
Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women. In women, the condition is responsible for about 29% of deaths, reports the CDC.
"The symptoms for women are typical for women, and they are often missed by doctors and the patient themselves," Mark explains. "We often think of symptoms … like chest pain. Some people may have that, but others may just have a little bit of jaw pain, shoulder ache, nausea, vomiting, or shortness of breath."
The American Heart Association lists risk factors for heart disease as:
- Increasing age
- Male sex (men typically develop heart disease at a younger age)
- Heredity (including race). People with family history of the disease have greater risk. So do African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and some Asian-Americans.
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- Obesity and overweight
Women can reduce their risk of heart disease by modifying their lifestyle to include a well-balanced diet and exercise.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. It is second to lung cancer as the leading cause of death for women.
The American Cancer Society lists the following as risk factors for breast cancer:
- Increasing age
- Genes. Nearly 5% to 10% of breast cancer is linked to mutations in certain genes
- Family history of the disease
- Personal history of the disease
- Race. White women have a slightly greater risk of getting breast cancer compared with African-American women. Yet African-Americans have a greater chance of dying from this disease.
- Earlier abnormal breast biopsy
- Earlier chest radiation
- Early onset of menstruation (before age 12) or menopause after age 55
- Not having children
- Medication use, such as diethylstilbestrol (DES)
- Too much alcohol
Hunched backs, back pain, and frailty used to be things older women had to accept before doctors knew anything more about osteoporosis. Now, there are steps women and girls can take to avoid such problems.
Osteoporosis threatens 44 million Americans, of which 68% are women, reports the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Risk factors for osteoporosis include:
Talk to your doctor about your possible risk of osteoporosis, and what you can do to prevent problems.
- Female sex
- Increasing age
- Small, thin-boned frame
- Ethnicity. White and Asian women have the greatest risk.
- Family history
- Sex hormones. Infrequent menstrual cycles and estrogen loss due to menopause may increase risk.
- Diet low in calcium and vitamin D
- Medication use, particularly glucocorticoids or some anticonvulsants
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol
Depression appears to affect more women than men. Hormonal changes can also trigger the condition, particularly after pregnancy (postpartum) or around menopause.
Other risk factors for depression include:
- A previous depressive episode
- Family history of depression
- History of heart problems
- Serious chronic illness
- Marital problems
- Substance abuse
- Use of drugs that could trigger depression, such as medicines for high blood pressure or seizures
- A stressful life event, such as job loss or death
- Diseases that could trigger depression, such as vitamin deficiency and thyroid disease
- Recent serious illness or surgery
- Childhood history of physical or sexual abuse
- Being a worrier or being overly anxious
- Having an eating disorder or an anxiety disorder
Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system attacks the body and destroys or alters tissues. There are more than 80 serious chronic illnesses in this category, including lupus, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.
Health Issues for Men:
What puts a man’s health at risk as he gets older?
They call it, atherosclerosis meaning "hardening of the arteries."
In cardiovascular disease, cholesterol plaques gradually block the arteries in the heart and brain. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot forms, blocking the artery and causing a heart attack or stroke.
Get your cholesterol checked, beginning at age 25 and every five years.
Control your blood pressure and cholesterol, if they're high.
If you smoke, stop.
Increase your physical activity level to 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.
Eat more fruits, vegetables and less saturated or trans fats.
Lung Cancer is a terrible disease: ugly, aggressive, and almost always metastatic. Lung cancer spreads early, usually before it grows large enough to cause symptoms or even show up on an X-ray. By the time it's found, lung cancer is often advanced and difficult to cure. Less than half of men are alive a year later.
Tobacco smoke causes 90% of all lung cancers. Thanks to falling smoking rates in the U.S., fewer men than ever are dying of lung cancer. But lung cancer is still the leading cancer killer in men.
No effective screening test for lung cancer is available, although a major study is going on to learn if CT scans of the chests of high-risk people can catch cancer early enough to improve survival.
Quitting smoking at any age reduces the risk for lung cancer. Few preventive measures are as effective -- or as challenging -- as stopping smoking. But new tools are available that work to help men quit. Your doctor can tell you more.
This is one health problem for men. A walnut-sized gland behind the penis that secretes fluids important for ejaculation, the prostate is prone to problems as men age.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men other than skin cancer. Close to 200,000 men will develop prostate cancer this year in the U.S.
One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
Screening for prostate cancer requires a digital rectal exam (the infamous gloved finger) and a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA).
Depression and Suicide:
Depression isn't just a bad mood, It's an emotional disturbance that affects your whole body and overall health.
In effect, depression proves the mind-body connection. Brain chemicals and stress ormones are out of balance. Sleep, appetite, and energy level are disturbed. Research even suggests men with depression are more likely to develop heart disease.
Experts previously thought depression affected far more women than men. But that may just be men's tendency to hide depressed feelings, or express them in ways different than women's.
Diabetes usually begins silently, without symptoms. Over years, blood sugars rise higher, eventually spilling into the urine. The resulting frequent urination and thirst are what finally bring many men to the doctor.
The high sugar of diabetes is anything but sweet. Excess glucose acts like a slow poison on blood vessels and nerves everywhere in the body. Heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations are the fallout for thousands of men.
Exercise, combined with a healthy diet, can prevent type 2 diabetes. Moderate weight loss for those who are overweight -- and 30 minutes a day of physical activity can reduce the chance of diabetes by more than 50% in men at high risk in one major study.
Erectile Dysfunction may not be life threatening, but it's still signals an important health problem. Two-thirds of men older than 70 and up to 39% of 40-year-old men have problems with erectile dysfunction. Men with ED report less enjoyment in life and are more likely to be depressed.
Erectile dysfunction is most often caused by atherosclerosis -- the same process that causes heart attacks and strokes. In fact, having ED frequently means that blood vessels throughout the body are in less-than-perfect health. Doctors consider erectile dysfunction an early warning sign for cardiovascular disease.
Effective ED treatments make a fulfilling sex life possible despite ED, but they don't cure the condition. If you have erectile dysfunction, see your doctor.
Diabetes and Heart Disease
Heart and vascular disease often go hand-in-hand with diabetes. Persons with diabetes are at a much greater risk for heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. Other vascular problems due to diabetes include poor circulation to the legs and feet. Unfortunately, many of the cardiovascular problems can go undetected and can start early in life.
Silent heart disease in young persons with diabetes:
Serious cardiovascular disease can begin before the age of 30 in persons with diabetes. The two most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes (also called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) is an autoimmune disease in which the body''s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, resulting in no or a low amount of insulin. Type 2 diabetes (also called non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus) is the result of the body's inability to make enough, or to properly use, insulin.
According to the American Diabetes Association, damage to the coronary arteries is two to four times more likely in persons with type 1 diabetes than in the general population. Because symptoms may be absent at first, the American Diabetes Association recommends early diagnosis and treatment, and management of risk factors.
Many studies demonstrate that persons with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease. In fact, one study found that persons with type 2 diabetes without apparent heart problems ran the same risk for heart disease as persons without diabetes who had already suffered one heart attack.
What causes heart disease in persons with diabetes?
Persons with diabetes often experience changes in the blood vessels that can lead to cardiovascular disease. In persons with diabetes, the linings of the blood vessels may become thicker, making it more difficult for blood to flow through the vessels. When blood flow is impaired, heart problems or stroke can occur. Blood vessels can also suffer damage elsewhere in the body due to diabetes, leading to eye problems, kidney problems, and poor circulation to the legs and feet
What are the symptoms of heart disease?
The following are the most common symptoms of heart disease. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of heart disease may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- irregular heartbeat
- swollen ankles
Prevention and treatment of heart disease in persons with diabetes:
Even when taking proper care of yourself, heart disease may still occur. Specific treatment for heart disease will be determined by your physician based on:
When risk factors are eliminated (or reduced) in a person with diabetes, the risk for heart disease may be reduced. Taking care of yourself and controlling your blood sugar can often slow down or prevent the onset of complications. Other preventive treatment measures may include:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
See a physician regularly.
Have annual electrocardiograms, or EKGs (a test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms, and detects heart muscle damage), cholesterol and blood pressure check-ups, and pulse measurement in legs and feet.
Always consult your physician for the most appropriate treatment plan based on your medical condition.
- Pay attention to your symptoms and report them promptly to your physician.
- Control your blood sugar levels.
- Control blood pressure levels with lifestyle and diet changes, and/or medication.
- Keep low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels (the "bad" cholesterol) at less than 100 mg/dL.
- Control your weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Do not smoke.
- Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages.
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of metabolic risk factors in one person. People with the metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of coronary heart disease, other diseases related to plaque buildups in artery walls (e.g., stroke and HYPERLINK "http://www.rush.edu/rumc/page-P06438.html" peripheral vascular disease), and type 2 diabetes, according to the American Heart Association. Risk factors for metabolic syndrome include:
The underlying causes of this syndrome are overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and genetic factors. It has become increasingly common in the US, affecting about 20 percent to 25 percent of US adults. The syndrome is closely associated with a generalized metabolic disorder called insulin resistance, in which the body can't use insulin efficiently.
- excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen
- blood fat disorders that foster plaque buildup in artery walls
- insulin resistance or glucose intolerance
- high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor (-1) in the blood
- raised blood pressure (130/85 mmHg or higher)
- elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in the blood
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