Things You Need to Know About Diseases that Affect Women

By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

Vandana Patil is a board-certified family medicine physician for Oswego Health.
Vandana Patil is a board-certified family medicine physician for Oswego Health.

Just like every person has a variety of circumstances that affect their health from family history to environment, both men and women have various health ailments that can affect them in different ways.

“There are certain cancers and routine screenings that women should make sure they schedule because, while it is cliched, the truth is early detection does save lives,” said Vandana Patil, a board-certified family medicine physician for Oswego Health.

Patil lists five health ailments that women should pay attention to in their lives.

1. Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease encompasses heart conditions that include diseased vessels, structural problems and blood clots. Some examples are coronary heart disease, which damages the heart’s major blood vessel or high blood pressure, which refers to the pressure of blood against your artery walls. Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death for women amounting to one in five deaths. Another factor is that women experience contrasting symptoms to ailments such as heart attacks. Men often describe their chest pain during a heart attack as a crushing weight on the chest. Some women also experience chest pain, but they are more likely to have different, subtler symptoms for three or four weeks before a heart attack.

“Because women don’t always have a searing pain in the chest, they often ignore early symptoms,” said Patil. “There are underlying heart disease signs that are not typical and if they don’t get a diagnosis early, then it can be dire by the time it is discovered.”

2. Anxiety and Depression

In the past, these issues were ignored by the medical community. But the healthcare field changed its philosophy and started adding questions about anxiety and depression in medical evaluation forms. Experts say a person should not simply suffer in silence.

“We recommend people talk with their doctors when they feel anxiety and depression because there are many techniques that are available. It can range from relaxation techniques from taking a walk and doing yoga or even lifestyle changes before you even think about any medication,” said Patil. “We recommend whether or not you are dealing with anxiety and depression that you should take 10 minutes at the beginning of your day if possible to have some reflection and relax your mind at home or even in your office at work.”

3. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps. For active women common injuries include sprains and strains, muscle cramps and dislocations. More ways to prevent injury include wearing proper protective equipment and using proper technique. In the event of an injury, the healing process will take time. Having patience and following doctors’ orders is important. Rehabilitation and restoring range of motion is the first priority, as resistance, strength and conditioning training will only exacerbate the injury if care is not taken. But bone deterioration is also slowly part of the lives of women for many reasons.

“As a woman goes through menopause, the lack of estrogen does affect her bones,” said Patil. “It puts women at risk for problems later in life. We recommend having a simple bone destiny X-ray, which is not painful, as well as having dairy products and calcium and Vitamin D.”

4. Obesity

Your eating habits are essential to your overall health. It’s important for successful aging to eat foods rich in nutrients and avoid the empty calories in candy and sweets. Being overweight or obese increases your chances of dying from hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, dyslipidemia and endometrial, breast, prostate and colon cancers.

“We all know the role obesity plays in a person’s life. It has gotten worse during the pandemic when gyms were closed and people were not as active as they should have been,” said Patil. “Obesity can lead to chronic diseases and we need to attack the problem before it becomes chronic.”

Whether it is strenuous or easy workouts, activity must be part of your overall life.

“This is another reason why we recommend exercising. People often talk about the winter blues since it stays cold and dark in Upstate New York. The good thing about exercising is that it releases endorphins that can make you feel better, let alone improve your health,” added Patil.

5. Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 14,480 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and 4,290 women will die from the disease this year. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women older than 30. Long-lasting infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex. In addition, breast cancer is still prevalent and should not be ignored even though statistics are going down. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States. Black women and white women get breast cancer at about the same rate, but Black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than white women. “We can not stress the importance of screening and women scheduling their mammograms and Pap smear appointments,” said Patil.