The top health threats to women

Published 10:39 am Monday, April 27, 2020

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Ron Kauffman

Senior Lifestyles


Women have to deal with a lot of health issues throughout their lives, from their childbearing years to their increasing risks of heart disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis. Certainly, men also have some health risks, but they may not show the same signs and symptoms as those experienced by women. The good news, like with most medical issues, is that the top threats to women’s health can be prevented or mitigated by knowing what to look for as they age.



The #1 killer of both men and women is heart disease. It kills one woman every 80 seconds, and 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors. Because the signs and symptoms for women are often different from those experienced by men, fewer women than men survive their first heart attack. Knowing the signs and symptoms could save your life, and as with men, the most common heart attack symptom for women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely to experience other heart attack warning signs & symptoms such as:

  • shortness of breath
  • nausea or vomiting
  • back or jaw pain
  • dizziness or fainting
  • extreme fatigue
  • uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest
  • pain or discomfort in one or both arms
  • breaking out in a cold sweat

This may surprise everyone, but the professionals in emergency services prefer that you call 911 rather than toughing it out if you experience one or more of those symptoms. The responders at 911 would rather deal with an early false alarm, than have to resuscitate a patient who waited too long or missed the opportunity to call for medical help when a clear symptom presented itself.


This is the #2 cause of death among women. The good news here is that screenings – mammograms – save lives.

For all women, the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. For this reason, it becomes much more important for all women over the age of 45 to get regular mammograms. Here are the age milestones that are recommended by the Veterans Administration, and they can be applied to all women:

  • At age 40: Talk with your doctor about the right time to begin screening;
  • By age 45: Begin yearly mammograms;
  • At age 55: Get mammograms every other year, or continue with annual mammography, depending on your doctor’s advice;
  • At age 75+: Continue getting regular mammograms if you’re in good health


Osteoporosis is more prevalent among women than men. In fact, 68% of all osteoporosis cases in the United States are in women. Known as a “silent disease” osteoporosis usually progresses without symptoms until a fracture occurs or one or more vertebrae (bones in the spine) collapse.

Osteoporosis risks can be reduced and, in some cases, prevented by taking the following steps to improve your bone tissue density and strength:

  • Add more calciumto your diet
  • Check your medications because certain drugs can contribute to bone loss
  • Exercise regularly because it strengthens bones and joints
  • Stop smoking! It’s bad for your bones
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking may cause poor nutrition and increase your risk of falling


Depression appears to affect more women than men. About 12 million women are affected by a depressive disorder each year compared to about 6 million men. The good news is that it is treatable. Here are some things you should know:

  • Everyone has occasional feelings of depression, usually caused by the loss of a spouse, a pet, a job, or a close friend or relative – these are normal feelings
  • If feelings of depression last more than 2 weeks, seek medical help
  • Don’t “go it alone” – there is always hope, and many ways to help you overcome those feelings

Keep in mind that you are your own “first responder.” Once you recognize that you are dealing with any of these health issues, it’s up to you to take control of your life. Call 911 if what is occurring scares or incapacitates you and talk to your doctor about what’s going on in your life as well as about your risk factors for these conditions. Knowledge is power, and if you learn that you have any of these or other serious issues, take control and get serious about reducing your risks.

Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert Speaker on issues of aging. Contact him at 828-696-9799 or by email