Though men and women are both susceptible to a variety of health concerns, certain issues tend to affect women more commonly. From depression to heart disease, below are a few of the health concerns women tend to be at a higher risk for, plus some tips on how you can live your healthiest life.
Heart disease is the leading killer of both women and men in the United States. For women, in particular, heart disease causes one in three deaths each year. Though genetics plays a role in your likelihood of developing heart disease, so does lifestyle choices.
Take the necessary steps to lower your risk of heart disease by:
- Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure in check
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Choosing to quit smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Managing stress and anger
The earlier you adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, the lower your overall risk of heart disease or stroke will be. But we understand that making these lifestyle changes is often easier said than done, which is why our cardiac rehabilitation program is here to help!
Over several weeks our cardiac rehab team will work with you to make diet and exercise changes. By helping you create new, healthy habits, we’ll keep your ticker in tip-top shape.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers facing women today. The good news is that with regular breast cancer screenings, early detection of the disease is possible!
Routine mammograms and breast self-exams are critical in finding cancer in its earliest stages (often when it’s more treatable). According to the American Cancer Society, women should begin annual breast cancer screenings at age 40, but it’s important to consult with your physician to see what screening schedule is best for you.
Our women’s imaging center here at Kirby Medical Center is pleased to announce that we offer Genius 3D Mammography, the latest in screening mammography. 3D mammography is an advanced screening and diagnostic tool known for detecting abnormalities in greater detail and with more accuracy. This improves the likelihood of early detection while also reducing the chances of false positives (or abnormal mammograms).
Osteoporosis threatens 44 million Americans and, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “a women’s risk of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis is equal to her risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined.”
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your bones, including:
- Incorporating enough calcium and vitamin D into your diet
- Eating a well-balanced diet (particularly one that’s high in fruits and vegetables)
- Exercising to build up muscle strength and flexibility
Depression and Stress
What happens when you mix a career with birthday parties, busy after school schedules, family gatherings, and a social life? Stress. Stress affects everyone but natural hormonal fluctuations that women experience (premenstrual syndrome (PMS), postpartum depression (PPD), menopause, etc.) can often lead to anxiety and/or depression.
Excessive stress can also result in high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, back pain, sleeping problems, and weight gain.
To help release stress and your risk of depression, find a constructive outlet or hobby that you enjoy. This could be volunteer work, physical activity (like running or biking), yoga, or therapy.
Tips for Healthy Living
Developing healthy living habits is the best way to avoid diseases, reduce stress, and prolong your life. Unfortunately, creating healthy habits tends to feel more like a chore if it’s not already part of a daily routine. Instead of completely changing every aspect of your life overnight, start by making these small changes.
Increase Your Daily Activity
“Exercise” — it’s something you hear every day and know you have to do, but it’s not exactly descriptive. Instead of trying to carve out a few hours every week to go to the gym, try to increase your average daily activity. Simple ways to do this are to:
- Always park in the furthest spot when running errands or coming to work
- Choose stairs over elevators and escalators
- Take a walk each night after dinner
Making minor, consistent changes is the best way to stick with your new healthy lifestyle. Over time, you can begin incorporating more difficult exercises into your routine.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
When life gets hectic, one of the first things to be taken off your to-do list is “make dinner.” And when that happens, you’re likely forced to resort to fast food or take out options.
The ideal diet is one that’s high in protein (lean meats, eggs, some dairy), fruits, and vegetables. Grains and legumes should also appear from time-to-time, but they shouldn’t make up the majority of your plate.
When you’re in the mood for a snack, stick to healthier options, like dark chocolate, nuts, and non-buttered popcorn.
Visit the Doctor (Even When Nothing is Wrong)
What was the reason behind your last trip to the doctor? Odds are, it was a stomach ache, cold, or some other illness. While it’s so important to visit the doctor when you’re sick, you should also be visiting when you feel perfectly fine. Annual check-ups and regular screenings — like colonoscopies, pap smears, and skin checks — are the best way to prevent an illness altogether or catching it at its earliest stage (when it’s most treatable).
Creating healthy habits is hard, that’s why we’re here to help. Call Kirby Medical Center at (217)762-2115 to learn more about our cardiac rehabilitation program, oncology clinic, and bone health services.