Preventive care is vital to maintaining overall health throughout adulthood. Though preventive care is often discussed in terms of diet, wellness checkups, and physical activity, recognition of various threats to long-term health is equally important.
Certain women’s health conditions get more attention than others, such as breast cancer. But other women’s health issues often fall off the radar, even if their prevalence merits greater consideration. The following are four significant and less publicized women’s health issues, and their recognition could potentially save lives.
- Heart disease. A 2020 report from the American Heart Association indicated that in 2009, 65% of women were aware of the fact that heart disease was their leading cause of death. By 2019, that figure had dropped to 44%. In addition, in its 2019 Global Burden of Disease Study, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated there are 275 million women around the world with cardiovascular disease. Often and incorrectly considered a disease for men, heart disease poses a significant threat to women. It is important for women to speak with their physicians about their heart disease risk and what they can do to maintain their long-term heart health.
- Diabetes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that African American, Hispanic/Latina, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander women are more likely to have diabetes than white women. However, any woman can get diabetes, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that type 2 diabetes is more common in adults ages 45 and older. The CDC also reports that diabetes increases the risk for heart disease in women by about four times compared to two times for men, which underscores the threat that diabetes poses for women. Women should speak with their physicians about the significance of checking their blood sugar and the role diet and exercise can play in reducing diabetes risk.
- Urinary tract infections. The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) notes that women get urinary tract infections up to 30 times more often than men. A 2016 report in the journal American Family Physician® noted that 30% to 44% of women get a second UTI within six months of an initial infection. OWH recommends urinating when the need arises, drinking between six and eight glasses of water per day, and additional hygiene measures can help prevent a UTI. Women can discuss other measures with their physicians.
- Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association® notes that almost two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women. The life expectancy of women is still longer than it is for men, which may explain the greater incidence rates of Alzheimer’s among women. However, women can still speak with their physicians about lifestyle choices that could reduce their risk for developing Alzheimer’s.
Recognition of less publicized issues that affect women’s health can be the first step toward reducing the risk for many conditions.