Women play a central role in society – that’s why this Women’s Month is a great time to ensure you are taking good care of your health, especially cardiac health.
By Michael Emery, Marketing Executive, Ambledown
Above all, Women’s Month should be a time to take stock of the many ways in which women play an essential role in society – and what specific challenges they face. One challenge often neglected is health. It’s a cliché because it’s true: without health, we cannot achieve our goals.
In particular, I want to highlight cardio-vascular health. Too often, it’s assumed that cardio-vascular disease is something that men mostly should be worried about, but it is also a major contributor to female ill health and death.
Around 8.9 million women died from preventable cardio-vascular disease in 2019 – it accounts for some 35% of all female deaths worldwide, making it the leading cause of mortality for women. The key word I want to emphasise here is ‘preventable’ – this Women’s Month we’d like to highlight the need to take action to avoid becoming victims of cardio-vascular disease.
This call is particularly important because women in developing countries are more at risk from these diseases than those in the developed countries. South African women aged 35-49 are 150% are more likely to die of cardio-vascular disease than their peers in the United States, with one in four women under 60 suffering some sort of heart condition.
Prevention really is better than cure
But it’s not all bad news. Eighty percent of deaths linked to cardio-vascular disease, including heart disease and strokes, can be prevented, according to research by the World Heart Federation.
The advice the World Heart Federation gives is probably well-known to readers, but if you’re anything like me, you may tend to push it to the back of your mind, so I hope it’s worth just reminding you. Basically, it boils down to making good lifestyle choices: a healthy diet, physical activity, avoidance of tobacco products and moderate alcohol use will help control cardio-vascular disease. High-risk factors for cardio-vascular disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity or diabetes – all of which can, to a large extent, be prevented or controlled through these lifestyle choices.
A huge contributing factor is stress, and as more women join the workforce, it’s just as well to research ways of managing stress. For some, physical activity is a good tool, but there are many other options such as yoga, meditation, gardening, listening to music or some other hobby. Find out what works for you.
A word to the wise: the warning signs of a cardio-vascular event differ between men and women. For example, women generally don’t experience a tightening of the chest as men do – their warning signs include abdominal pain, a fluttering heartbeat, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, pain in one or both arms, dizziness and/or fainting and swollen feet.
On the subject of health, it’s wise to ensure that you have a health care plan in place. Ideally that would include medical aid or medical insurance, and it is well worth considering gap cover as a way to cover costs (like hospital costs) that medical aid does not cover fully. A thorough medical assessment with your family doctor this month could be a good place to start, followed by an in-depth analysis of your health risks with your broker.
Women are the backbone of the family and society at large – we urge them to make regular tests a part of their routine.
For more information and to find a gap cover solution to suit your specific needs, go to www.ambledown.co.za