May 2013 Edition - Health Matters

The latest news on the health and wellness issues that matter most • May 2013 Health Matters

what’s NEWin WOMEN’S health By Jean Amodea

In 1979, songwriter Peter Allen penned the tune “Everything old is new again,” and today, Stephanie Piver, RNC, BSHA, CCE, Women’s Health Com- munity Educator for NCH, is looking at old wisdom and updating self-care recommendations for women based on current research. The adage “an apple a day” has basis in truth. A new study found that people who eat whole apples consumed 15% fewer calories than those who ate lower-fiber versions of this food, including apple- sauce and apple juice. Foods high in fiber are ben- eficial to the heart and helpful in maintaining good blood pressure and sound digestion. We now know that heart disease is the leading killer of women and claims more women than the other top five causes of death combined. Risk fac- tors differ in men and women. Some of the risks specific to women include a post-menopause state, ovary removal, an elevated C-reactive protein read- ing and hypothyroidism. Heart attack symptoms differ between the sexes too. Presenting symptoms more common in women are: unexplained weakness or fatigue; dizziness, nausea or vomiting; hot burning sensation or tenderness to touch in the back, shoul- ders, arms or jaw; and a sense of impending doom. New research on Diastolic Heart Failure (DHF) shows that among people with heart failure, women suffer more than men. Under normal circumstances the heart’s pumping action moves oxygen-rich blood as it travels from the lungs to the left atrium, then on to the left ventricle, which pumps it to the rest of the body. In DHF the left ventricle loses its ability to relax normally (because the muscle has become

stiff ).The heart can’t properly fill with blood during the resting period between each beat. DHF is character- ized as a chronic and progressive disease affecting the left ventricle of the heart and results in fatigue, pulmo- nary edema and jugular vein distension, contributing to the inability to experience activities to their fullest. Risk factors for this age-related malady are hyper- tension, diabetes, valvular disease and obesity. Piver said the importance of self care should not be underestimated, as it has been shown to slow pro- gression of the disease and decrease rehospitalizations. Communicating well with your physician, taking daily weight measurements, maintaining a low-sodium diet, having regular physical activity, and being aware of symptoms such as shortness of breath, lower extremity edema and activity intolerance are recommended. As for lung cancer, Piver said that more women die each year from lung cancer than from breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined, and the number of wom- en diagnosed with lung cancer has risen steadily in the past 20 years.Women with a history of family members with lung disease are at greater risk for developing this cancer. Anyone who still smokes should quit the habit, and all should try to minimize their exposure to sec- ond-hand smoke. Cervical cancer is most often caused by HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. HPV is a sexually- transmitted disease infecting four out of five women by age 50. Although genital HPV infections are common, Piver said, most occur without any symptoms and go away without any treatment within a few years; how- ever, some HPV infections can persist for many years. If untreated, areas of abnormal cells can sometimes

Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices: * Every woman should be an active participant in her own healthcare * Maintain a healthy lifestyle “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, participating in stress man- agement and taking medications as ordered are all suggestions for actively participating in one’s health- care by making smart lifestyle choices,” Piver said. develop into cancer. Other risk factors include long-term use of birth control pills, lack of regular pap tests, having five or more children, a weakened immune system, and ex- posure to diethylstilbestrol (DES). Pregnant women (typically 1940–1971) who took DES to prevent miscarriage, as well as any daughters born from that pregnancy, may have an increased risk of cancer after age 40. Piver recommends regular pap tests based on each woman’s medical history and her healthcare provider’s guidance. She also cautions against us- ing more than the recommended daily allowance of supplements like B6, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D or E without a physician’s recommendation.

* Eat a healthy diet * Exercise regularly * Participate in stress management * Take medications as ordered

Stephanie Piver, NCH’s Women’s Health Community Educator

For more information contact Stephanie Piver, NCH Women’s Health Community Educator at (239) 552-8316.

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