It’s natural to be concerned about your health, and it’s wise to be proactive about preventing problems from taking root. But when it comes to disease prevention, many women may be misplacing their energy.
That’s because the top health threats for women aren’t necessarily what people think.
For example, many still believe breast cancer to be the leading cause of death for women. While it definitely makes the top five, it’s nowhere near as pervasive as heart disease, which claims one out of three women each year.
Knowing which potential health problems to focus on can mean the difference between living well and struggling with disease. At Northwest Primary Care, we help women stay healthy with a variety of screenings and services related to the health issues that are most relevant to them.
When it comes to women’s health care, Portland doctors recommend proactively working to prevent these top five health problems:
- Heart disease
Not only can heart disease cause premature death, it can severely impair the lives of women, who may become so short of breath even a flight of stairs seems an impossible task. To compound the problem, heart conditions often go undiagnosed in women because the symptoms differ from those men experience.
That’s why cardiac care is such an important part of our women’s health care program. We offer a variety of options for testing and treating heart disease and can help women uncover the causes of symptoms such as chest pain, abnormal heart sounds, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. We can also help women recovering from a heart attack determine their exercise tolerance.
- Breast cancer
The most common cancer among women, breast cancer takes the lives of one out of 31 American women each year. On the plus side, mortality rates from breast cancer are declining, in part because more women are discovering breast cancer in time to effectively treat it. This positive outcome is due to increased awareness and your doctor stressing regular mammograms.
At Northwest Primary Care, we use a variety of methods to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. From regular breast exams for all women to mammograms and ultrasounds for women over 40, we apply the latest technology and research to help minimize the risk of this disease.
Osteoporosis, or the loss of bone mass, affects 44 million Americans. Around 80 percent are women, who lose bone density rapidly in the years after menopause. Hunched shoulders, back pain and broken bones are just a few of the complications that accompany this disease.
However, with the right diet, exercise and treatment, osteoporosis is entirely preventable—especially if you start early. We help women avoid bone loss through risk assessments, bone density tests, nutrition counseling and other preventive services.
It may not seem like a deadly disease on the surface, but depression has an impact on just about every aspect of a woman’s life. Women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Northwest Primary Care physicians understand how important a woman’s mental health is to her physical health. Through our whole-patient approach to medical care, we help women who struggle with depression find the resources they need to reduce their risks.
- Autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks the body, causing tissue damage. Lupus, multiple sclerosis and thyroid disease are just a few examples of the more than 80 chronic illnesses that comprise this category. As a group, these disorders represent the fourth-largest cause of disability in women.
In many cases, the causes behind autoimmune disorders are unknown, and the diseases themselves can be difficult to diagnose. We work closely with women to investigate the causes of these mysterious symptoms and determine the best course of treatment. Our chronic disease management program provides a treatment plan with regular monitoring and helps women coordinate between multiple care providers to ensure the best possible outcome.
While it’s important that women take these health concerns seriously, the good news is that chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension are preventable and treatable when caught early. To get the best possible women’s health care, Portland women should understand their health risks and work with their Northwest Primary Care doctor to determine what screenings, treatments and lifestyle changes are necessary for them.