Listen up, ladies – and those who love them!
It’s National Women’s Health Week and we can’t think of a better time to put “self care” on your to-do list (we know, it keeps getting longer and longer… but you’re important). This week, we’re sharing what you need to know – and DO – for your health and well-being. But first, a few facts that turned our heads:
In the U.S., more women than men (14% vs. 12%) have high cholesterol
33% of women age 20 and older have high blood pressure
78% of Americans with autoimmune diseases are women – and autoimmune conditions have tripled over the last 30 years
80% of Americans with osteoporosis are women
33% of women age 40 and older haven’t had a mammogram in the last two years
27% of women age 18 and older haven’t had a Pap smear in the last three years
We don’t know about you, but we’re ready to turn those numbers around!
You’re Preventive Care Checklist
Know your numbers. It’s quick, simple and relatively painless. We’re talking about a blood test for cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as a blood pressure check. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women and diabetes is rapidly on the rise. Take a few minutes ASAP to phone your doctor and check this off your list.
Ask about other recommended blood tests. As long as you’re checking cholesterol and glucose, find out if there are other screenings that can be thrown into the mix. Mercury, Vitamin D and iron levels are all linked to autoimmune disease and other conditions – like anemia – that are common in women. Celiac disease has also been shown to cause 60 autoimmune diseases and is on the rise; ask your doctor if a screening makes sense for you.
Take care of your bones. Bone density declines as we age, particularly in women – and even more so in white and Asian women. Prevent decline by incorporating weight-training into your weekly workouts and making sure you get adequate calcium in your diet. Recommendations vary on how much calcium you need – and the effectiveness of supplements – so talk to your doctor about what’s best for you. If you’re 65 or older, scheduling a bone density scan would be a good idea.
Over 40? It’s mammogram time. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The good news is that survival rates are on the increase, largely due to early detection. That’s where mammograms are literally a lifesaver. The American Cancer Society recommends one annually starting at age 40.
Get a Pap at least every three years. New guidelines call for a cervical cancer screening – the Pap test – every three years for women age 21 to 65. But talk to your doctor to find out what’s right for you. If you’ve had abnormal results in the past or have ever tested positive for HPV (human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer), more frequent screenings may be right for you.