Women are encouraged to attend regular check-ups to ensure they are fit and healthy Image Credit: iStock

International Women’s Day took place on March 8 across the world. One of the most important rights that women have is the right to good health. While there are multiple reasons across several countries for why women do not have access to high-quality healthcare, the paradox is true as well. Despite having access to healthcare, women tend to put themselves last when it comes to prioritising their health and wellbeing.

Heart disease

Two studies from the Polish Registry of Acute Coronary Syndromes (PL-ACS) that were presented last week at the Acute Cardiovascular Care 20191, a European Society of Cardiology (ESC) congress, stated that women call an ambulance for husbands, fathers and brothers with heart attack symptoms but not for themselves.

Professor Mariusz G. Sior, principal investigator of the registry, said: “Very often women run the house, send children to school, and prepare for family celebrations. We hear over and over again that these responsibilities delay women from calling an ambulance if they experience symptoms of a heart attack.”

Dr Marek Gierlotka, registry coordinator added: “In addition to running the household, women make sure that male relatives receive urgent medical help when needed. It is time for women to take care of themselves too.”

Women must understand the importance of regular cervical screening. Moreover, young women can opt for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine that protects against cervical cancer.

- Dr Nada Al Mulla, Family Medicine Physician and Head of Nad Al Hammar Health Centre, DHA

A total of 7,582 patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) were included in the analyses of this study.

Dr Nada Al Mulla, Family Medicine Physician and Head of Nad Al Hammar Health Centre, DHA, said, “ Although heart disease is usually synonymous with men, studies have shown that women are as prone to heart disease as men. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death in women all across the world. Lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol are risk factors for heart disease. Those with a family history of heart disease also need to be aware and keep their health in check. Regular health screening after the age of 18 years, once every two years and then yearly once the doctor recommends is important to detect risk factors like hypertension and diabetes early on even if women do not have any symptoms.”

Cervical Cancer

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women worldwide with an estimated 570,000 new cases in 2018, representing 6.6 per cent of all female cancers.

Dr Al Mulla said, “Women must understand the importance of regular cervical screening. Moreover, young women can opt for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine that protects against cervical cancer.”

It is not mandatory in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. The vaccine remains optional and is part of the National

Immunisation Programme

Dr Al Mulla said, “The vaccine should ideally be given to women before they are married or before the age of 26 years. Getting the HPV vaccine reduces a woman’s risk of cervical cancer and precancerous growths substantially.”

Maternal health

Dr Al Mulla said, “We are blessed to have high-quality healthcare facilities in Dubai and have access to excellent prenatal, anti-natal and post-natal care. However, women need to ensure that they take care of themselves before, during and after pregnancy.”

“Women with a high BMI and obesity issues, should try and lose weight before they plan to have a baby. Women should also visit a gynaecologist three to six months prior so that they can begin taking supplements such as folic acid and get all the required tests done. They should strictly adhere to their gynaecological appointments during pregnancy and eat clean, healthy meals to avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

“Women should also be aware of rehabilitation, physical therapy and post-partum depression after delivery so that they can seek medical intervention if they need it.”

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects 200 million women worldwide. It affects one in four women above the age of 50 years. Dr Al Mulla said, “The build-up of bone occurs until the age of 30 years. After that maintenance is key to avoid depletion of bone density. Regular weights exercise, a healthy diet and calcium supplements help prevent the risk of osteoporosis.”