Health Must Be First Investment Women Make For Their Future

Heart disease, cancer and stroke among top diseases that claim the lives of women each year

DAYTON, Ohio (April 11, 2013) – The investment women make today to better their health could mean less time and money spent at the hospital or pharmacy counter later on in life, said Anoopa Hodges, DO, a Premier HealthNet primary care physician.

Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the top three diseases that claim the lives of women every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But there are choices women can make to stay healthy at any age.

“I believe women need to think about the long-term picture of being healthy both now and in the future,” said Dr. Hodges, who practices at Oakwood Primary Care. “They need to think of it as an investment in time and sometimes even money. They need to make daily efforts to get healthy food at the grocery store and exercise daily.”

In addition to daily exercise and healthy eating, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) outlines several actions women can take to maintain good health. They include getting health screenings, taking preventative medications if they are prescribed, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and keeping alcohol consumption to one drink per day.

Health screenings – such as blood pressure checks and mammograms – are tests that look for diseases before you have symptoms. Other important screenings for women can detect osteoporosis (bone thinning), cervical cancer, colon cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and even depression. Once a risk factor has been identified a physician may treat the patient to minimize its effect. Women can maintain a healthy lifestyle by taking their prescriptions – such as high blood pressure or cholesterol medication – diligently, according to the HHS.

“I personally tell my patients that a lot of their health starts and ends at the grocery store,” Dr. Hodges said. “The choices you make for daily food purchases can be a major help because with a very busy lifestyle it is very easy to lean toward processed foods, which are really not good for your health.”

Dr. Hodges said smoking cessation is a significant step toward better health, but she realizes it can be a very difficult thing to do. It is usually easier for women to quit smoking as long as they seek help from their loved ones, their physician, and a support group. Smoking is directly responsible for 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women each year and increases a woman’s risk for developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, voice box, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder and uterine cervix, according to the American Lung Association.

Many healthy lifestyle changes can’t be done alone; therefore, Dr. Hodges encourages women to seek support in making their health a priority.

“Demographics have changed where family support is not there as much as it used to be, simply because people have to live away from their families for jobs,” Dr. Hodges said. “So women need to seek out the friendships and support they might need.”

View frequently asked questions about women’s health.

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