Do your best to make exercise a part of your life, to eat healthy and to maintain a healthy body
weight. If you smoke, ask your doctor about techniques that can support your efforts to
successfully quit. Limit alcohol consumption. Check your breasts monthly for suspicious lumps
and changes. Always use sunscreen. Don't drive anywhere without buckling up.
It is also critical to have a good relationship with your health care provider. National studies have
shown that women make more visits to the doctor than do men and are highly interested in and
informed about health care issues. However, compared with men, studies have also shown that
women may not be as satisfied with the information they receive from their health care providers
or the level of communication with their health care providers. Furthermore, several studies have
found that health care providers treat women differently than they do men. Compared with the
treatment given to men, health care providers may give women less thorough evaluations for
similar complaints, minimize their symptoms, provide fewer interventions for the same diagnoses,
prescribe some types of medications more often, or provide less explanation in response to questions5.
Here are some tips for making the most of your medical visits.
Be informed. Before visiting the doctor, do your homework. Take advantage of the millions of
Web pages of credible health information on the Internet, but be sure the information is from
"credible" sources, such as leading medical facilities or government agencies. Take a list of
questions with you when see your doctor and take notes during the visit.
Be informative. Make sure to tell your doctor about any unusual symptoms you may be having,
even if you don't think there is cause for concern. Be as detailed as possible to describe what it
is you have experienced and when.
Be proactive. Make sure you keep up with the preventive screenings and diagnostic tests
recommended for women your age. These may include mammography screenings, Pap smears,
pelvic exams, stress tests, routine blood work, and colorectal screenings.
These facts about women's health may surprise you and can help you to make informed
decisions regarding your health.
Heart Disease and Stroke5:
- Heart disease is the number one killer of American women.
- Although it is typically viewed as a man's disease, more women actually die of heart disease each year than do men.
- On average, women develop heart disease later in life than do men. In addition, women are more likely than are men
to have other coexisting, chronic conditions that may mask their symptoms of heart disease.
- Symptoms of a heart attack in women may also differ from those in men, which can lead to a misdiagnosis of the disease in women.
- Women who recover from a heart attack are more likely to have a stroke or to have another heart attack than are men. In fact,
42 percent of women die within a year following a heart attack compared to 24 percent of men.
- Taken together, stroke and heart disease kill nearly twice as many American women as do all types of cancer combined.
More than one woman in five in this country has some form of major heart or blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.
However, in a 1997 national survey, only 8 percent of American women recognized heart disease and stroke as the leading cause of women's deaths.