Health problems faced by women worldwide include breast and cervical cancer, depression, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and pregnancy complications to name just a few. It is often easy to dismiss health problems as being a problem for the developing world or other countries where access to healthcare is limited or nonexistent, but there are many issues that face women in the United States. Here are four of the biggest health issues women face in 2016.
Often, cardiovascular disease is considered to be a “male” health problem, but according to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease “…is the number one killer of women.” It is crucial that women learn the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack, because these can be different in women than they are in men. Some of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Pressure, squeezing or fullness in your chest – may remain constant or go away for a few minutes then return
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, jaw, neck, stomach and/or back
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea and/or lightheadedness
- To prevent cardiovascular disease it is important that you maintain a nutritious diet, get regular exercise and trying to reduce stress in your life.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
You may think that pregnancy and childbirth are only issues women face in the developing world, and while a majority of deaths occur in the developing world, it is a health issue that hits close to home. Every day in the United States alone, two to three women die from pregnancy complications, a number that is double what the rates were in the United States 20 years ago. Each day, 70 Afghani women die due to pregnancy complications and annually more than 529,000 women globally will lose their lives as a result of pregnancy complications.
“Breast cancer is the leading cancer killer in women aged 20-59 years worldwide,” according to the World Health Organization. Two of the most important tools for catching breast cancer early, which improves your chances of survival, are your hands. Women should perform monthly self-breast exams and check for any unusual hard lumps or changes in breast tissue.
It can be far too easy to discount mental health problems because they are “invisible” problems, but the consequences of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression are very real and tangible. “Depression is the leading cause of disease burden for women in both high-income and low- and middle-income countries,” says the World Health Organization. Women are more likely than men to suffer from mental health issues and are also more likely to experience a life event that causes depression and anxiety such as domestic violence, rape or disaster. An estimated 800,000 people die annually from suicide. If you, or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, it’s okay to ask for help.
Taking an active role in your health and living an overall healthy lifestyle can go a long way in preventing serious health conditions. Eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of exercise and give up vices like smoking immediately. There are a number of charities and organizations that you can get involved in that advocate for women’s health issues both in the United States and around the world. Being aware of potential threats and knowing warning signs can help you identify health problems as they arise and before it’s too late.