CONSUMER HEALTH

A Woman’s Guide to Reducing Health Risks, Achieving Optimal Well-Being

Many conditions can affect both women and men, but women often don’t realize they have different risk factors and experience varying symptoms that can impact their long-term health and well-being. Dr. Alexandra Gottdiener, chief of medicine and co-medical director of the Braverman Family Executive Wellness Program at Englewood Health offers women tips on how they can reduce their risk of developing certain conditions.

How can women reduce their risk of breast cancer?

Women should discuss screening for breast cancer with their physicians at the age of 40. Women with a higher risk of developing breast cancer because of a family history should be referred for genetic counseling and individualized screening plans.

Do women experience the same symptoms of heart disease as men? How can they reduce their risk?

Heart disease remains the number one killer of women in the U.S. Women should seek medical attention for any chest pain symptoms, including heaviness, discomfort and pressure. Women are also more likely to experience other symptoms, such as back or jaw pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and dizziness, which can be mistaken for other less serious illnesses. Women have the same risk factors as men for developing heart disease – older age, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and family history. New guidelines recommend that more women should consider taking cholesterol-lowering medications based on their individual risk of developing heart disease.

What steps should women take to maintain healthy joints and bones?

Healthy lifestyle measures (adequate calcium and vitamin D, healthful diet, physical activity and weight-being exercises, not smoking and limited alcohol use) before a woman is in her mid-30s help prevent osteoporosis later in life. Those same lifestyle choices will help prevent osteoporosis as women age. All women should be screened for osteoporosis after menopause since many safe treatment options exist to prevent osteoporotic fractures.

How can women optimize their mental health?

Women should practice mindfulness and self-care for optimal mental health. Stress, in particular, can lead to chronic physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms resulting in impaired immune, digestive, reproductive functions, decreased growth, and repair capacity. Relaxation activities such as meditation, yoga, massage, stress-management, wellness coaching, among others, can help reduce stress. Getting plenty of sleep, engaging in adequate physical activity each week, and eating a healthful diet can also reduce stress and may play a role in reducing signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

What other ways can women prevent or address chronic conditions?

Annual screenings are important for overall health and wellness and may identify present or underlying health conditions. Women should practice mindfulness and self-care to support optimal mental health. Relaxation activities such as meditation, yoga, massage, and other stress-management techniques may be beneficial. Also, consider an executive wellness program such as our Braverman Family Executive Wellness Program, which offers health and wellness assessments in a single day.

Posted September 2018