Heart Disease in Women

* The following article was written by Covington Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Rhonda Cook and was published in Rockdale Newton Citizen’s “Physicians Guide.” *

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in our country. All women—including African Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasians—are at risk. And most of these deaths are preventable.

Our heart and blood vessels make up our cardiovascular system. More than one in three American women are living with some form of heart or cardiovascular disease. This includes many different problems such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.

Am I at Risk?

Your age, lifestyle, health conditions and your family history contribute to your risk for cardiovascular disease. Your lifestyle includes whether you exercise or sit often, whether you drink alcohol or not, and whether or not you smoke. The choices you make will have a large impact on your health.

Excessive alcohol use can increase your heart disease risk in several ways. Alcohol can cause an increase in blood pressure and contribute to obesity. While some studies have shown that alcohol consumption in moderation may have some benefit to heart health, studies to confirm this are ongoing.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Poor diet
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated LDL (bad cholesterol)
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Diabetes mellitus

Warning Signs

Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of heart or blood vessel disease have no warning symptoms.  Even if you feel well, you may still be at risk.

Women typically experience different symptoms when having a heart attack than men do. As already mentioned, some women have no symptoms, other women may experience sharp or burning chest pain, frequently while also having pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen or back. Chest pain should never be ignored! Call 911 if you suspect you are having heart symptoms.

Prevention is the Key

Take steps to lower your heart disease risk by changing the behavior you can control.

  • Exercise regularly. 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly is recommended.
  • If you smoke, stop!
  • Maintain healthy body weight. If you are overweight, lose the excess weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, poultry, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy products whole grains, and an adequate amount of water intake. If you choose to eat meat look for the leanest cut meats possible. Also eat less sugar, saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, sodium, and processed foods.
  •  Know your blood pressure. Check it routinely at home. See your doctor regularly for BP checks, cholesterol checks, diabetes evaluation, eye exams.
  • Take your medications as directed.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation. This means a one drink a day limit for women.
  • Control your stress. Practice stress-relieving techniques.

If you have any more questions about heart disease in women, reach out to the experts at Covington Women’s Health by either giving us a call at 770-385-8954 or by clicking here to schedule an appointment.

Menstruation 101

About half of the women population is currently in their reproductive age, which means about 26 percent of the world is currently experiencing their menstrual cycle. A pivotal part of that cycle is the period, which is also called menstruation.

While the topic menstruation covers a large amount of information, we’re covering the basic medical facts you might need to know below.

What is the Technical Definition of Menstruation?

Menstruation is defined as the process of when blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus are discharged out of the vagina due to changes in hormones. When this process starts in young ladies, typically around 12 years old, this means that their bodies are preparing themselves to become pregnant. In fact, if it weren’t for menstruation, we wouldn’t be able to reproduce.

Menstruation happens during the menstrual cycle. When this cycle begins, the lining of the uterus becomes thicker. During this time, eggs are released from the ovary, kickstarting the ovulation process. Two weeks after this, the lining of the uterus falls away, along with bleeding. Then, the process starts all over again.

However, every woman is different and it’s more common to see a variety in the above-described menstruation cycle, depending on which woman you ask.

What are the Symptoms of Menstruation?

Aside from having blood or discharge coming out of the vagina, here are other common symptoms of the menstruation cycle:

  • Cramping.
  • Bloating.
  • Abdomen swelling.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Acne.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Mood swings.

Answers to Common Questions About Menstruation

Here are some of the most common menstruation questions answered for you:

  • When do women start their menstrual cycle? Anywhere between ages eight to 15.
  • When does menstruation stop? When menopause begins, which is the process of a woman’s body stopping ovulating and periods. This means that they can no longer get pregnant, stopping the cycle in its tracks.
  • Do men experience menstruation? Biologically, no.
  • How long does the menstrual cycle last? Day one begins when bleeding starts. Day 14 is about when the ovulation process kicks off, which usually stops around day 25 if the woman is not pregnant. Then, the cycle begins again with a new period, most typically around day 28.
  • Can a woman still experience her period even if she is pregnant? No. Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy should be monitored by an obstetrician.
  • If someone is experiencing extremely painful menstruation cycles, what can do they do? Visit their doctor. Their trusted medical professional will be able to kickstart a treatment plan for them, involving options such as birth control and over the counter pain medications.
  • Are there risks of having a menstruation cycle? Yes. Using tampons and pads incorrectly can lead to something called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare disease that happens when a pad or tampon is not changed frequently enough. This causes the spread of bacteria throughout the body, which can be deadly. That’s why it’s vital to change the pad or tampon once it becomes soaked with blood or around every four to eight hours.

If you have any further questions or would like to visit with any of our expert gynecologists regarding your cycle, click here to reach out or give us a call at 770-385-8954.

What You Need to Know About Cervical Cancer

While rare, cervical cancer does affect about 200,000 women in the United States each year. For those who do have it, it can be a devastating disease if not caught early enough. That’s why it’s vital to keep yourself informed about cervical cancer, so you and your loved ones can spot it before it gets too serious.

Keep reading below to learn more from the experts at Covington Women’s Health.

What is Cervical Cancer?

A type of cancer that happens in the cells of the cervix, cervical cancer starts when healthy cells in the lower vagina begin to reproduce uncontrollably. There are two types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. The former begins in the lining of the outer part of the cervix, while the latter begins in the cervical canal.

The biggest risk factors for this cancer are having multiple sexual partners, STIs, smoking, a weak immune system, and having sex early on in your life.

Currently, it’s not known what causes cervical cancer. However, it is clear that HPV plays a part. It is not the only reason though, as HPV is extremely common and many people with it never have cancer. So, HPV paired with environment or lifestyle factors will cause this cancer to develop.

Symptoms

Unfortunately, the early stages of this cancer show no symptoms. Here are the most common symptoms of the late stages of cervical cancer:

  • Bleeding from the vagina after sex.
  • Abnormal bleeding in-between periods or after menopause.
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain while having sex.
  • Discharge from the vagina that may be watery, bloody, or have a strong odor.

Treatment Options

The good news is that, usually, cervical cancer is treatable, if caught early enough. There are multiple ways to keep an eye on it in your body, such as early screening tests and the HPV vaccination. Speak with your gynecologist today about your screening options and if you should get the HPV vaccination if you haven’t yet.

There are also multiple treatment options available. The most common are as followed:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Therapy options
  • Radiation
  • Clinical Trials

If you have any further questions, reach out to our professional gynecologists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-385-8954.