Dual work stress, weight gain emerging as leading new age health concerns women
With changing lifestyles, more women entering the urban workforce and shifting reproductive behaviors, the health concerns women face have also witnessed a shift in recent years.
While breast cancer has replaced cervical cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in India, more women today are also experiencing hormonal disorders, excessive weight gain, calcium and vitamin D deficiency, along with early onset of arthritis. Health concerns such as cardiovascular diseases and hypertension that were earlier considered more common among men are becoming rampant among women as well.
Especially relevant to our times are the problems of dual work responsibility (managing household and office work) and weight gain being faced by women, particularly in urban areas.
As we celebrate yet another International Womenâ€™s Day, doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Ahmedabad, are exhorting women to pay more attention to their health concerns, improving lifestyles and eating habits and keep a check on their health vitals through regular preventive screenings.
â€œRising incidence of obesity, high blood sugar levels as well as hypertension are major health concerns for women today. These health issues are driven by multiple factors including lifestyle aspects such as low physical activity, increased consumption of processed packaged and junk food, and high levels of mental stress caused by the dual work responsibility. While women have entered the urban workforce in a big way, they continue to shoulder a higher burden of household responsibilities at home, putting many of them under chronic mental stress. Apart from giving medical attention to such issues, it is also important socially to ensure better sharing of household responsibilities by spouses,â€explains Dr. Aarti Vazirani, Consultant, Gynecology, Columbia Asia Hospitals, Ahmedabad.
The findings of the latest National Health and Family Survey tell us that a whopping 31.3% women in urban India are overweight or obese. Similarly 9.6% urban women have blood pressure higher than the normal range, and 10.5% urban women have blood sugar levels higher than the normal (women in 15-49 years bracket), while 50.8% urban women in the age bracket of 15-49 years are anemic. At the same time, low prevalence of preventive health screenings is a major cause of worry. According to the Survey, only 25.3 urban women between 15-49 years who have undergone examinations of the cervix, while only 11.7 have undergone examinations of the breast.
â€œUnlike western countries where preventive health check-ups are a norm, India is yet to catch up to the idea of regular health screening tests. When it comes to women, this practice is almost absent. Conditions such as high blood sugar and high blood pressure donâ€™t necessarily show in initial stages, so itâ€™s important to get tested from time to time for them. Women in their reproductive age can also experience a series of health concerns such as hormonal imbalance or development of cysts or fibroids in the ovaries. In fact thyroid imbalance and poly cystic ovary syndrome are quite common among women today, and in many cases remain undiagnosed for a long time,â€ adds Dr Vazirani,Consultant, Gynecology, Columbia Asia Hospitals, Ahmedabad.
In a series of womenâ€™s health initiatives, Columbia Asia Hospitals, Ahmedabad will be conducting screening sessions for women free of cost at the hospital premises for the next 3 weeks. Women wellness sessions were also conducted by Dr Aarti Vazirani at a leading automobile company in Sanand (where over 100 employees participated) and another in the primary catchment area of Gurukul Hospital, Memnagar.
Here are a few health screenings, women must undergo regularly:
Breast Examination â€“ A clinical breast examination is recommended every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women above 40. Post 40 women are also advised to undergo a mammogram every 1-2 years.
Thyroid testing â€“ A blood test to rule out thyroid imbalance is recommended regularly in consultation with your doctor.
Pap Smear test â€“ Regardless of your sexual activity, women must start having a pelvic exam and pap smear test every year once they turn 21 for early identification of cervical cancer risk.
Blood Pressure â€“ Starting 30 years of age, you should get checked at least every two years to make sure your blood pressure is in the range of 120/80. If the reading is higher, you may have to get checked more often and should also be screened for diabetes.
Blood Sugar â€“ Also keep your blood glucose levels under regular check in consultation with your doctor.