Imagine living without illness to slow you down. While there are no lifetime guarantees, enough scientific research has been done to make long, healthy living a possibility. To help women boost health, we list five medical conditions that are of great concern: heart disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis, depression, and autoimmune diseases.
Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women. In women, the condition is responsible for about 29% of deaths. Yet death in itself isn't the biggest problem for women with heart disease. The real trouble is in premature death and disability. There are far too many women dying of heart disease in their 60s. There are (also) women, who, for many years, are really ill with heart disease - being out of breath, not being able to walk up one glight of stairs . . .because heart disease impairs their ability. The symptoms for heart disease are often typical for women.
Breast Cancer is the most cancer in women. It is second to lung cancer as the leading cause of death for women. Experts say the fear of breast cancer can sometimes be exaggerated, stopping women from going to their doctors for screening, or pushing women to make rash decision about mastectomy, when it may not be necessary. There's a lot of treatment for breast cancer. Women should educate themselves.
Osteoporosis threatens a lot of people, of which 68% are women. Osteoporosis is largely preventable. The behaviours that women develop in their childhood, in their adolescence, and in their early adult years really play a significant role in the development of the disease. That's because bodies build up most of the bone mass until age 30. Then new bone stops forming and the focus is on maintenance of old bone. It is never too late to keep bones strong and avoid fractures.
Depression appears to affect more women than men. About 12 million women are affected by a depressive disorder each year. Women need that sustenance, and if they don't have it, they tend to get depressed. Sometimes, hormonal changes can also trigger the condition. Statistically the healthiest adults are people in significant relationships. Adults not in nurturing relationships can reduce their risk of depression by making efforts to reach out into the community.
Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which immune system attacks the body and destroys or alter tissues. There are more than 80 serious chronic illnesses in this category, including lupus, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.
It is believed that 75% of autoimmune diseases occur in women. By themselves, each disease appears to be uncommon - except for diabetes, thyroid disease, and lupus, but as a group, the disorders make up the fourth-largest cause of disability among women. It is not known what causes the body to turn on itself, but genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors are suspects.
Since autoimmune diseases are not very well understood, pin-pointing specific risk factors is difficult. Symptoms can also be non-specific, hampering proper diagnosis. However, if you know something is wrong with you or a loved one, it's important to become an active health advocate. It's very common for women to make multiple visits to multiple doctors to finally get a diagnosis, but someone should take their symptoms seriously.
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