While there aren’t a whole lot of differences between women and men today, one difference is clear, and you need to know about it. The two genders are affected by their own unique sets of common health threats. It’s important for all women to understand these threats in order to take the smartest steps for both healing and prevention. Let’s look at 10 adverse health conditions that have been shown to be the most common causes of death among American women.
- Heart Disease: This conditions is responsible for about 27% of female deaths. While breast cancer may be a more visible women’s health issue, heart disease kills more women than breast cancer – and all other cancers put together. Yet medical science has demonstrated that heart disease can be prevented in many cases by quitting smoking, eating a heart-smart diet and getting regular exercise.
- Cancer: Coming in behind heart disease is cancer, which is responsible for more than 250,000 female deaths each year in America. Lung cancer is the biggest killer, accounting for around 70,000 deaths annually. The best way to protect yourself against all forms of cancer is through a highly nutritious diet and avoiding behaviors (smoking, sun damage, excess alcohol, etc.) that can lay the foundation for this disease.
- Stroke: In the U.S., approximately 60% of deaths from stroke happen to women, and 8% of female deaths overall are the result of strokes. As with virtually all adverse health conditions, stroke in many cases can be prevented through proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Signs of stroke include body numbness, particularly on one side of the body; blurred vision; balance issues; dizziness; and mental confusion. If these happen, call 911 right away.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): The lungs are the target for this disease, which is responsible for around 5% of deaths in females. Bronchitis and emphysema are common with COPD, which is typically found in smokers. Not only can COPD kill (64,000 female deaths per year), it also can destroy your quality of life. Solution: quit smoking now.
- Alzheimer’s Disease: This disease, which is part of the larger diagnosis of “dementia,” is to blame for about 4% of all women’s deaths in the U.S. every year. It strikes more women than men. Medical researchers are still trying to understand this complex condition and give us ways to prevent or slow it down. If you’re a woman and find yourself becoming more forgetful and confused, particularly in older age, please see an Alzheimer’s specialist as soon as possible.
- Injuries: Just below Alzheimer’s Disease on the list of threats to women’s health are the garden variety of accidents. More than 37,000 females die each year in the U.S. from accidents. Traffic accidents and falls account for a large number of these deaths. Accidents in most cases can be prevented by taking appropriate safety measures (seat belts in cars, climbing only on secure devices, avoiding risky behaviors, etc.).
- Diabetes: Nearly 26 million American women have diabetes (Type I and Type II), and it accounts for about 3% of women’s deaths each year. One of the troubles with diabetes is that it so often goes undiagnosed because often it is unsuspected. Read up on this condition, and meet with your healthcare provider for a simple test that will tell you what your body is doing with the sugars from the foods you eat. Often a committed change in diet can make a world of difference – whether you’re pre-diabetic or diabetic.
- Flu and Pneumonia: Anyone with a weakened immune system is subject to these illnesses. Nearly 3% of female deaths in the U.S. are caused by one of either influenza or pneumonia. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about a meal plan that will boost your immune system, and ask your healthcare provider if a vaccine might be a smart preventative measure.
- Kidney Disease: When the kidneys malfunction and can’t filter waste out of your body, the result can be very serious. About 2% of women die from kidney disease every year. Conditions that are linked to this illness include heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Kidney disease is a “silent killer,” in that it presents no early symptoms. Safeguard your health by having blood and urine tests according to a schedule set down by your doctor.
- Blood Poisoning: Like all living organisms, blood is susceptible to infections by bacteria and the wide variety of toxins that exist in our world. Commonly these pathogens originate in infected lungs, abdomens, urinary tracts and other places within the body. Initial symptoms can include fast pulse, mental confusion, chills and high fevers. Left unattended, shock can result. Blood poisoning is responsible for 1.5% of female deaths annually in the U.S.
Most of these threats to women’s health can be prevented or treated efficiently – assuming you undergo proper testing and adapt a more healthy lifestyle. Arizona OBGYN Affiliates cares about your health. Contact us to schedule an appointment with an AOA provider.