National Women’s Health Week is an observance led by the federal Office on Women’s Health. The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority. The week also serves as a time to encourage women to take steps to improve their health. It’s never too early or late to work toward being your healthiest you! This National Women’s Health Week, we want to help you take control of your health.
May is the perfect time to plan for women’s health empowerment because it includes National Women’s Health Week. While we celebrate the many contributions of women throughout history, it’s an opportunity to reflect on our own lives and our place in today’s society. Women share many of the same interests, values, concerns and, of course, challenges including:
- There’s the challenge to be successful in our family lives, whether we’re married, unmarried, head of a single-parent household with children, caregiver of an aging family member with Alzheimer’s or another debilitating disease, or in many other situations.
- There’s the challenge of the workplace, including juggling multiple on-the-job responsibilities, frequent sexism, and pushing up against the “glass ceiling.”
- And for too many women, there’s the challenge of having a physically, verbally or emotionally abusive partner, and not knowing how to get free from the destructive relationship.
With so much on women’s minds, unfortunately, disease prevention and staying healthy are often way down on the list of priorities – if they make the list at all. Indeed, many women are more likely to put the health of their children ahead of their own. Although that’s understandable, it’s not wise because women must remain physically, mentally and spiritually healthy in order to make sure that their children and other family members are.
We should all take to heart Women’s Health, and focus on ensuring our own strength and well-being. Specifically, there are four special health issues targeted by Health Power which women need to increase their awareness of. We call them “The Big Four” because they often have a relationship to each other. They are:
- diabetes – African American and Hispanic women with diabetes who don’t keep their disease under control are more likely to develop complications, have more disabilities, and die from their disease than whites. Diabetes complications include blindness, kidney disease, amputations, heart disease and stroke, and nerve damage.
- obesity – Diabetes and Obesity often go together: (1) About 9 out of every 10 adults who develop diabetes, which is usually Type 2 Diabetes, are obese, (2) When people with Type 2 Diabetes, which is the most common kind, are obese and lose weight, it is easier to control their diabetes.
- hypertension – Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can damage the heart and cause other serious health problems, as well. In fact, high blood pressure increases a person’s risk for serious health events such as heart attacks, strokes, chronic heart failure, and kidney disease.
- heart disease – Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most races and ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and Whites. Hypertension, diabetes, and obesity – are all major risk factors for heart disease, as are poor diet, physical inactivity, and smoking.
The website sections for each of the above 4 conditions provide a wide mix of information, including approaches to prevention, early detection and control.
Women should periodically think about what’s on their minds related to how to achieve empowerment, especially regarding the prevention and/or control of each of the health issues above.
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!