Every 2.5 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Every 60 seconds a woman has a heart attack. And every 23 seconds a woman is diagnosed with diabetes. What if one of these conditions was sneaking up on you? Would you know the warning signs? Awareness empowers prevention. Here’s what you can do to keep your health clear of a major crisis.
The 5 Biggest Mistakes Women Make
Health Mistake #1: Ignoring Exhaustion
Warning Sign: Heart Attack
A normal, healthy heart is able to pump more than 5 liters of blood per minute. Lifestyle choices such as a poor diet, no exercise or smoking all weaken the heart, which makes it more difficult to get blood flowing to the rest of the body. Your heart tuckers out and so do you.
A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study showed that women often experience new or different symptoms for as long as a month or more before having a heart attack. What’s more, the major heart attack symptoms in women often differ compared to those in men. Exhaustion ranks as the top symptom in women prior to their heart attack. If you wake up unusually tired, have difficulty getting through the day, or have trouble falling asleep – another symptom more common in women – see your doctor to get an echocardiogram (EGG), an ultrasound test used to examine the heart.
Click here for more on women and heart attacks, including a full list of common symptoms.
Health Mistake #2: Ignoring Unexplained Weight Gain
Warning Sign = Breast Cancer (Also Colon, Ovarian and Uterine)
Many times women ignore unexplained weight gain, chocking it up to not enough physical activity or indulging in too many fattening foods. But putting on extra pounds inexplicably can also be a serious warning sign related to breast cancer. Here’s what happens: When breast cancer cells spread, they can stick to the abdominal wall and secrete chemicals that cause fluid to accumulate and the belly to expand. Unintentional weight gain can also be a sign of other cancers, including colon, ovarian or uterine. If you experience widening abdominal girth, yet haven’t changed your diet or exercise habits, see your physician for a full medical workup and request having your belly checked for fluid.
Click here for Dr. Oz’s Ultimate Guide to Preventing Breast Cancer.
Health Mistake #3: Ignoring a Frequent Urge to Urinate
Warning Sign: Diabetes
If you have to urinate all the time, it could be a warning sign of diabetes. Frequent urination occurs in cases of undiagnosed diabetes because of high blood sugar levels. Here’s what’s going on: Your kidneys start working overtime to draw in water from the body so they can help flush out excess sugars. This process also results in your feeling very thirsty. If you suspect you might have diabetes, see your doctor who can run a urine test and a finger-stick blood glucose test.
Click here to learn more about how diabetes affects the body.
Health Mistake #4: Taking All of Your Medications in the Morning
Warning Sign: Blood Pressure Complications
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is regarded as a “silent killer,” a disease many people are unaware they have until it’s too late. Of the millions of Americans who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, most are prescribed ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors). These work by widening or dilating blood vessels to improve the amount of blood your heart pumps, subsequently lowering blood pressure. Traditionally, doctors have advised their patients to take ACE inhibitors and other blood pressure-lowering medications in the morning, since blood pressure is typically higher then. However, new studies based on the body’s biorhythms have determined that when people ingest ACE inhibitors in the morning, they may actually be less effective. If you take ACE inhibitors in the morning, talk to your doctor about taking them at night instead.
Click here to learn more about the benefits of taking blood pressure medications at night.
Health Mistake #5: Ignoring Loss of Sense of Smell
Warning Sign: Alzheimer’s Disease
Every 70 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The biggest mistake you can make is to ignore memory loss by assuming it’s age-related. In cases of normal, age-induced memory loss, you may have difficulty retrieving memories (stored in the hippocampus) because fewer brain cells make it difficult to access them. In the case of Alzheimer’s, amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles literally destroy the connection between neurons and synapses so that memories are gone forever.
One of the first areas of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s is the part responsible for your sense of smell. There’s a simple smell test you can try at home to determine if your memory loss could be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s. Click here to take the test.
To protect yourself against Alzheimer’s, look to omega-3 fatty acids, believed to help ward off this deadly disease and boost memory. Here are a few ways for you to get this important nutrient into your diet:
- Increase your intake of algae oil. Take it in pill form, 350mg a day. Or sauté 3.5 ounce servings of salmon (or other fish such as sardines) in olive oil, for added healthy monounsaturated fat, and eat twice a week.
- Try French maritime pine bark, an ancient therapy that goes back to Hippocrates. Take 150mg supplements daily.
Click here for more on omega-3s and other nutrients that help fight Alzheimer’s disease.