Women face unique health issues that present themselves differently than those of men. From May 8–May 14, we’re proud to celebrate National Women’s Health Week, which encourages all women to make proactive choices regarding their physical and mental health.
Women’s Health Statistics
Research shows that women in the United States generally live longer than women in other countries, with an average life expectancy of 81.1 years. However, they still face significant health issues such as heart disease, cancer, and problems surrounding fertility.
Data shows that in 2021, the estimated number of new breast cancer cases will be 281,000. According to the WHO, 810 women die every day from pregnancy and childbirth issues that are deemed preventable, with 94% of maternal deaths occurring in low and lower-middle-income countries.
In addition to their physical health, women face significant mental health issues. Research shows that women are twice as likely as men to experience Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Severe mental disorders are 70% more prevalent in women than in men. Up to 1 in 5 women also face the unique struggle of postpartum depression after pregnancy.
Women’s Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular disease doesn’t affect all women the same, leading to many misconceptions about heart disease. It is critical to understand the warning signs to control the risks as best you can and to receive the proper treatment.
African American women are more susceptible to heart disease due to a specific gene that causes a higher sensitivity to salt. Rates of obesity and diabetes are also more prevalent amongst this demographic. In turn, these scenarios can lead to higher blood pressure. Data shows that of African American women, ages 20 and older, 49% have heart disease.
Research has shown that many Hispanic women said they’re more likely to take preventative action for their families’ heart health but ultimately do not prioritize their own. Data shows that Hispanic women are more likely to develop heart disease ten years earlier than non-Hispanic women and that only one in three Hispanic women know that heart disease is their number one killer.
Women of all ages and demographics can be affected by heart disease. However, women who are 65 and older should be extra mindful of the potential risk factors. In older women with a history of heart disease or heart-related issues, there is a strong link between heart disease and dementia. A significant decline in cognitive health is twice as likely in women with previous heart-related issues, such as a heart attack.
Heart Disease in Men vs. Women
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, accounting for one in three deaths every year. However, many women are not diagnosed due to symptoms being more challenging to detect than in men. Women also have their own set of unique risk factors, which include:
- Pregnancy complications
- High testosterone levels before menopause
- Hypertension during menopause
- Autoimmune diseases
- Stress and depression
Other risk factors that affect men and women equally include:
- Diets high in cholesterol and saturated fats
- Excessive alcohol use
- Family history of heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Lack of physical activity
- Tobacco use
The most common symptoms of a heart attack in men and women are chest pain, tightness, or discomfort. However, women more commonly experience symptoms aside from that, some of which are more vague. Female symptoms commonly appear while they’re resting. Due to different symptoms and how they’re presented, women often don’t know they’re experiencing a heart attack. As a result, there’s usually more significant heart damage when they receive tests and treatment. Unique risk factors in women include:
- Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in one or both arms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Unusual fatigue
Women’s Health Month
National Women’s Health Week is part of a larger celebration, Women’s Health Month. SpecialtyCare is the largest provider of perfusion services, supporting 1 in 8 heart surgeries performed in the country every year. We strive to provide valuable information, research, and equipment that supports our commitment to providing the highest quality care to our patients. This Women’s Health Week and throughout the month, we’re happy to draw attention to important women’s health issues and share preventative action steps to take to promote healthy lifestyles.
SpecialtyCare is dedicated to providing an exceptional patient experience, becoming the OR employer of choice, and leading the way in OR innovation. They do this through staffing operating rooms and providing the equipment needed for medical procedures.