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Breast cancer is a dreaded disease…
So before I offend anyone, please know that I, too, have watched people I deeply care for fight, and not always win, this battle.
But there is something else dangerous about breast cancer — and other female-related diseases…
And that is a doctor’s inability to warn us about the high and unique risks that women face from diseases that they feel are outside of the realm of our sex.
Think about the last checkup you had. Other than your doctor probably trying to talk you into taking cholesterol meds (because they all do these days), he probably had little interest in anything other than your breast health, reproductive organs or hormonal issues.
But the problem doesn’t start with your doctor. It starts with the research that’s leaving you out in the cold…
Women and their blood pressure
Women account for half of all cases of high blood pressure, yet research into blood pressure and its impact on the human body has disproportionately focused on men.
And besides the obvious differences in men and women, there are many others that Mother Nature was quite ingenious at disguising.
Take hypertension-related kidney disease, for example. A review of more than 80 studies shows distinct differences in the way men and women are affected. Men fare much worse, and women, thanks to an abundance of kidney-protecting T-cells, do much better.
This is just one type of research that has led scientists to believe that women’s immune systems are “cardio-protective.”
But is that true? Or is it just a sad fact that all the hypertension research focusing on men, leaves us vulnerable to major health risks yet to be identified?
I have to say it’s the latter, and very recent research explains why…
Hypertension and dementia
It appears that all those old studies that examined ways hypertension can affect health and the human body have left women out in the cold, and at grave risk…
Because we are negatively affected by hypertension. But instead of suffering from hypertension-related kidney disease, women who develop hypertension in their 40s are 73 percent more likely to develop dementia.
Could this explain why nearly two-thirds of the 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women?
Most certainly, in my opinion. But we are also more prone to developing Alzheimer’s because of a little thing known as menopause… that hits most women in their late 40s or early 50s, an especially vulnerable window of time.
Many doctors believe that this hormonal shift contributes to high blood pressure and, the scary thing is, unless you’re regularly getting it checked, the symptoms of menopause may make it harder to diagnose.
That’s because some people with high blood pressure experience sweating, difficulty sleeping and facial flushing. Sounds a lot like a hot flash, doesn’t it? And once we hit menopause, it’s hard to get our doctors to realize anything else could be the problem.
Lower your blood pressure
There are a few things you can do that can both help you have healthier blood pressure and further decrease your risk for dementia — and, hopefully, the other yet-to-be-researched ways that hypertension may affect you as a woman.
Diet is first on the list. I gave up one food and my high BP vanished. It’s no secret that food was grains. When I embarked on my paleo-styled diet, it was the first real change.
The second was adding fat back into my diet. Healthy fats are brain food, just what a brain needs to fight off amyloid plaques. I eat salmon at least once a week and include heart-healthy coconut oil in my diet as well.
Thirdly, don’t forget your vegetables, especially these 15 potassium-rich ones. Eat more celery to relax blood vessels. Eat fewer potatoes — a 20-year study published in the British Medical Journal revealed that people who ate four or more servings of potatoes per week were more likely to have high blood pressure than those who ate one or fewer servings per month.
And walk. Please walk. At least 30 minutes of brisk walking daily can do wonders, if you are not up to exercise that is a little more strenuous.
The things that make our bodies different certainly send mixed messages. So listen to your body and take care of it. Our doctors are not all-knowing and don’t always listen.
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- Hypertension in Women: Review Calls for More Data to Improve Treatment — American Physiological Society (APS)
- High blood pressure a silent danger in postmenopausal women — Harvard University
- What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure? — American Heart Association