Have you ever walked out of your doctor’s office after a visit confused about what she or he just told you? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. Health issues can be complex and hard to understand.
At the same time, it seems that we are being asked to do more and more to improve our health. There are almost daily news reports about advice on eating certain foods or exercising to prevent certain diseases. Keeping track of all this in-formation can seem overwhelming. And the sometimes conflicting advice clouds our understanding even more. Plus, if you have a family, you are likely making health choices not only for yourself, but also for them!Although the matter of health can be challenging, there are ways to make it easier. To start, it is important to learn about the things you can and can’t control.
As you learn about diseases that affect women, you will learn how to improve your family’s health as well. Diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke can, of course, affect men as well as women. Steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting these diseases can also apply to the men in your life. And because heart disease may start as early as childhood due to poor eating habits and lack of physical activity, your efforts may help your children lead longer and healthier lives. What you do today counts—for you and your loved ones. Take charge of your health!
Risk factors that you have little or no control over include your: family history of a disease, sex, ancestry, age, health—having one health problem may raise your risk of having another (for instance, having diabetes increases your chances of getting heart disease)
Risk factors you can control include:l what you eat, how much physical activity you get, whether you use tobacco l how much alcohol you drink, whether you use illegal drugs, whether you use your seatbelt.
In fact, it has been estimated that almost 35 percent of all U.S. early deaths in 2000 could have been avoided by changing just three behaviors:l stopping smoking eating a healthy diet (for example, eat-ing more fruits and vegetables and less red meat)l getting more physical activity
How this book can help you
In this book, we discuss the risk factors for major diseases that affect women—both those that you can control and those you can’t. If it is possible to control a risk factor to lower your chances of getting a disease, we will tell you how. We will also discuss diseases for which causes and risk factors are not yet understood. This book also explains:l what happens to your body with certain diseases tips for handling many diseases and health conditions, how to stay healthy during key phases of your life, such as during pregnancy and menopause, how to communicate with doctors and nurses, the screenings, tests, and immunizations women need, where to find more health information that you can trust. In each chapter, besides important health tips, you will also find personal stories from women across the country. You may find that some of their experiences are similar to what you may be going through. Hopefully, these stories will show you that you are not alone.