The first step to staying healthy is the knowledge of what you’re up against, and then taking the necessary steps or precautions to reduce risks. The good news is that many of the top threats to women’s health are preventable.
The top causes of death among adult women in the U.S. include heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and unintentional injuries, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Top Threats to Women’s Health
The top five health issues facing women today are:
The most common cancers affecting women are breast and cervical cancers, but even in this category, breast cancer is not the most deadly threat. Rather, lung cancer claims the most lives each year, mostly due to smoking.
Detecting cancers early are key to keeping women alive and healthy, and the latest global statistics show that around half a million women die from cervical cancer and half a million from breast cancer each year.
The majority of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. In these countries, screening, prevention, and treatment are almost non-existent.
Fortunately, lifestyle choices and healthier habits can help prevent some forms of cancers.
To the surprise of many women, Heart disease accounts for around 27 percent of all female deaths. It even kills more women in the United States than all forms of cancer combined. Fortunately, there are lots of lifestyle changes you can make to ward off heart disease, such as being physically active, not smoking, and following a healthy diet.
Reproductive Health And Maternal Health:
Sexual and reproductive health problems are responsible for one out of every three health issues for women between the ages of 15 and 44 years. Unsafe sex with its accompanying STD is a major risk factor, particularly among women and girls in developing countries.
Many women are benefitting from improvements in care during pregnancy and childbirth, but those benefits do not extend everywhere. In 2013, almost 300 000 women died from complications in pregnancy and childbirth, and most of these deaths could have been prevented, had proper access to family planning and basic services were available.
Stroke is of significant risk to women’s health. It’s not only responsible for almost 8% of all female deaths, but it’s also the leading cause of long-term disability.
Women are more often affected by this condition than men, and about 60% of the total number of stroke deaths happens in women. Thus, it’s very important that all women learn to recognize the signs of a stroke, and to call emergency team immediately if you have symptoms of numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially if it’s only on one side of your body.
Symptoms of onset of stroke include sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, sudden difficulty seeing, dizziness, loss of balance, or an abrupt severe headache.
COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
This group of diseases affects the airways and lungs and makes up about 5% of all female deaths. COPD is mostly caused by smoking and involves bronchitis and emphysema.
In 2000, for the first time, more women than men died of COPD, and it’s now estimated that 64,000 women die from the condition every year. The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a serious threat to women’s health that also diminishes the quality of life by causing shortness of breath and limiting the patient’s ability to stay active.
How To Prevent These Top Threats to Women’s Health
If you have health problems, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, that may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
While you can’t eliminate risk factors such as family history, you can adopt a healthier lifestyle, and control other risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
If you smoke or use other tobacco products, you need to quit. Avoid exposure to smoke too, since women are more vulnerable than men to lung damage from inhaled smoke and pollutants.
This puts women at increased risk of illness and even death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). You can protect your respiratory health by not smoking and try to minimize your exposure to chemicals and outdoor air pollution.
Also, prevent respiratory infections by washing your hands often and getting a flu vaccine. Cross check with your doctor whether you need a pneumonia vaccine as well.
Eat A Healthy Diet And Maintain A Healthy Weight
Losing excess weights and keeping them off can lower your risk of heart disease as well as various types of cancer.
Engaging in exercise can help you control your weight and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. Choose activities you enjoy, and that can even include dancing.
If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation, because, the risk of various types of cancer, including breast and liver cancer, appears to increase with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly.
If you feel constantly stressed, your lifestyle habits might suffer, and so might your immune system. Take steps to reduce stress and learn to deal with stress in healthy ways.
Finally, to stay safe on the road, wear your seat belt, follow the speed limit, and don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or any other substances. Also, don’t drive while exhausted and sleepy.
Don’t be overwhelmed by these health risks, but do whatever you can to lead a healthy lifestyle, and these simple preventive measures can go a long way toward reducing these threats to your health.