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Women’s health essential to force readiness

Women with a U.S. Marine Female Engagement Team operating in Europe demonstrated their capabilities in Marine Corps martial arts, non-lethal weapons, foreign weapons handling and combat lifesaving to Romanian and U.S.  Women comprise more than 27 percent of U.S. Marine Corps and Navy personnel, making women’s health essential to force readiness. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Michelle Reif) Women with a U.S. Marine Female Engagement Team operating in Europe demonstrated their capabilities in Marine Corps martial arts, non-lethal weapons, foreign weapons handling and combat lifesaving to Romanian and U.S. forces. Women comprise more than 16 percent of U.S. Navy, and 6 percent of Marine Corps personnel respectively, making women’s health essential to force readiness. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Michelle Reif)

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The top five leading causes of death for U.S. women according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Women comprise more than 16 percent of U.S. Navy, and 6 percent of Marine Corps personnel respectively, making women’s health essential to force readiness.

"Prevention is always the best policy when it comes to your health,” said Navy Capt. Elizabeth Adriano, Naval Hospital Jacksonville director for surgical services. “Be proactive about any health concerns you have, and take advantage of preventive services such as regular Pap tests, mammograms, and colonoscopies. We are standing by to take care of you."

Risk factors for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women, include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive alcohol use. Women should know their risk and work with their primary care manager to reduce those risks.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer, behind skin cancer, among women in the U.S. However, breast cancer is on the decline due to increased awareness, screenings, and improved treatment.

Starting at age 40, women should talk with their PCM about when to start and how often to get a mammogram. Women age 40 and up do have the choice to get an annual mammogram. To find out more, talk a PCM.

Women should get Pap tests starting at age 21, regardless of sexual activity, and continue every three years through age 65, at which point the PCM might recommend stopping as long as prior results didn’t show precancerous changes. Pap tests can be done at well-woman exams. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), according to CDC. Factors that increase risk are smoking, using birth control pills for five or more years, or multiple sex partners.

There’s more to preventive care than cancer screenings. At regular check-ups, the PCM conducts a physical exam, documents health habits and history, discusses recommended screenings and immunizations, and provides education and counseling to help patients make informed health decisions. 

Below are some important steps women can take to help live a healthy life:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables. (See what’s recommended based on age, activity level, and health.)
  • Each week, get two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • Get seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night.
  • Take time to relax.
  • Take charge of your sexual health; value who you are and decide what’s right for you.
  • Regularly see your primary care manager.
  • Get screenings and immunizations (such as pap tests, mammograms and all three HPV shots) as recommended by your primary care manager.

Some life events can bring added stress with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties. Manage stress with self-care and social support; and talk to a health care provider when needed. Avoid drugs and alcohol, stay active, stay social connected, and seek out support.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

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