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Women's Wellness at Griffin Hospital

Be Well. Stay Healthy.

As a woman, our natural inclination is to care for others. But it's only when we take care of ourselves that we can truly be there for our loved ones. Griffin Health Services is dedicated to keeping you healthy and well throughout every stage of your life. Below is information regarding health screenings, healthy behaviors and Griffin Health resources that will help you get, and stay on track. We encourage you to take control of your health today.

Resources Specifically for Women

Prevention through Routine Screenings

As a female, the following preventive services are recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services:

Cancer Screenings

Breast Cancer:
Mammogram every 1-2 years starting at age 40. Women should perform self-breast exam once a month.

Cervical Cancer:
Pap smear every 1-3 years in sexually active women with a cervix. 

Colon Cancer:
Stool blood testing and flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy every ten years, starting at age 50.

Heart Health Guidelines

Strokes:
Daily use of 80mg of aspirin for the prevention of strokes in women age 55-79, if the benefit outweighs the risk of a bleeding ulcer. Monitoring & reducing your blood pressure to keep the numbers under 120/80 is the best way to prevent a stroke.

Blood Pressure:
Minimum every 2 years starting at age 18. Any reading above 120/80 should be discussed with your primary care physician. While high blood pressure can be due to an unhealthy lifestyle, other factors such as high stress and dysfunction of the endocrine system can cause uncontrollable blood pressure. Your cardiologist will work with you to find a solution that works for you.

Cholesterol:
High cholesterol can be hereditary and despite an outwardly healthy appearance, your body could be abnormally producing cholesterol with no signs or symptoms. Have your cholesterol checked every 5 years starting at age 45 or earlier if possible and more often if results are not normal. Women under 45 should talk to their health care provider about cholesterol testing if they have diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of heart disease, or smoke.

Infectious Disease

Flu shot:
Yearly after age 50. If you are younger than 50, ask your health care provider.

Pneumonia:
Receive the pneumonia vaccine once after the age of 65. If you are younger, ask your health care provider.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV):
If you are sexually active and at increased risk.

Diabetes

Insulin Dependent Diabetes:
Screening for type 2 (insulin dependent) diabetes should be done for all adults without symptoms who have sustained blood pressure (treated or untreated) greater than 135/80 mmHg.

Musculoskeletal:

Bone Density & Osteoporosis:
All women 65 and older should be screened routinely. Women with increased risk for osteoporotic fractures should start routine screening at age 60.

Blood Pressure:

High blood pressure is a serious condition. About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure. You can have high blood pressure for years without knowing it because it has no symptoms. Over time, if high blood pressure is not treated, damage occurs to the blood vessels supplying blood throughout the body. This damage leads to coronary heart disease (“heart attack”), heart failure, strokes, kidney, retinal artery and other health problems. This is why knowing your blood pressure numbers is so important.

Lifestyle factors such as being overweight, lack of physical activity, alcohol use and smoking can lead to prolonged high blood pressure. Knowledge is power. Know your numbers. People who have high blood pressure should take steps to control it and reduce their risks for related health problems.

Key steps include:

1) Check and monitor you blood pressure regularly
2) Follow a healthy lifestyle
3) Consult your doctor if your blood pressure is high and follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment.
4) If you are taking medications, remember to take them daily as prescribed by your doctor.

Source: The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and American Heart Association

Taking your medications as prescribed is an important step in controlling your blood pressure. If you are having difficulty taking your medications, you should let your doctor know.

Did you know:

  • The most common barrier to treating illness is the patient’s failure to take their prescription medications correctly.
  • 10% of all hospital admissions are due to patients taking their prescription medications incorrectly.
  • 4.2 days is the average length of stay in a hospital for the patient who is admitted due to not taking their medication correctly.
  • Two-thirds of all Americans fail to take any or all of their prescription medicines.
  • Almost 29% of Americans stop taking their medicine before it runs out.
  • 22 % of Americans take less of the medication than is prescribed by the doctor.
  • 12% of Americans fail to fill their prescriptions.
  • 12% of Americans who fill their prescriptions don’t take any of the medication. 

Source: The American Heart Association

Total Cholesterol Level

Know your numbers. If you have a desirable cholesterol level, you are at a lower risk for the development of heart disease.

High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for the development of a heart attack or a stroke. You can have high blood cholesterol without knowing it because the condition rarely presents itself with symptoms. The American Heart Association reported that 45.1% of American adults age 20 and older have cholesterol levels that are too high (200mg/dL and over). This is why it is so important for all people to know their cholesterol level.

Screening for cholesterol disorders allows patients to begin cholesterol-lowering medications. Several large studies have found that patients who take cholesterol-lowering drugs for 5 to 7 years can decrease their risk of heart disease by about 30%.

Other risk factors which need to be considered when interpreting your blood cholesterol level are: age, gender, family history, race, smoking history, blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes.

Steps you can take to help lower your cholesterol:
  1. Consult with your doctor about taking cholesterol medications.
  2. Eat less saturated fat, trans fat and total fat in your diet. 44-78 grams/day based on a 2000 kcal/day diet
  3. If you have high blood pressure, make sure it is well controlled.
  4. Avoid tobacco.
  5. Get regular exercise (30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise, 5 times a week or 20 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise, 3 times a week). Exercise can increase your good cholesterol (HDL)!
  6. If you are diabetic, control your blood sugar consistently.
  7. Achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

    Source: the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Adult Treatment Expert Panel-III

    HDL Cholesterol
    Get tested and know your numbers. If you have a high HDL cholesterol level, you have a major risk factor for the development of heart disease. If you don’t know your HDL cholesterol level, you are also considered at risk.

    The higher your HDL (good cholesterol) the better. In the average male, the HDL cholesterol ranges between 40-50mg/dL while in the average female the range is between 50-60mg/dL. An HDL cholesterol of 60mg/dL and higher is protective to the heart. Smoking, obesity and lack of physical exercise can all lower your HDL cholesterol.

    Steps you can take to raise your HDL cholesterol:

    1. Stop Smoking
    2. Maintain a healthy weight
    3. Get regular exercise (30 minutes of moderate cardio 5 times a week or 20 minutes of vigorous cardio 3 times a week).

    Source: the American Heart Association

    LDL Cholesterol

    If you have an “abnormal” LDL cholesterol level, your LDL cholesterol is too high and puts you at an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. If you haven’t done so, you should consult with your physician. If you do not know your LDL cholesterol level, you are also considered at risk.

    The lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) the better! When you have too much LDL cholesterol circulating in your blood, it builds up over time in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. If a blood clot forms and blocks an already narrowed artery, a heart attack or stroke can result.

    The lower you LDL cholesterol, the lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, it is a better gauge of risk than total blood cholesterol. Your other risk factors for heart disease and stroke help determine what your LDL level should be, as well as the appropriate treatment for you. A healthy level for you may not be healthy for someone else. It all depends upon your risk factors as to what an acceptable level is for you. The more risk factors you have for a heart attack or stroke, the lower your LDL should be.

    Reference the American Heart Association

    Taking your medications as prescribed is an important step in controlling your blood cholesterol levels. If you are having difficulty taking your medications, you should let your doctor know.

Did you know:

  • The most common barrier to treating illness is the patient’s failure to take their prescription medications correctly.
  • 10% of all hospital admissions are due to patients taking their prescription medications incorrectly.
  • 4.2 days is the average length of stay in a hospital for the patient who is admitted due to medication noncompliance.
  • Two-thirds of all Americans fail to take any or all of their prescription medicines.
  • Almost 29% of Americans stop taking their medicine before it runs out.
  • 22 % of Americans take less of the medication than is prescribed by the doctor.
  • 12% of Americans fail to fill their prescriptions.
  • 12% of Americans who fill their prescriptions don’t take any of the medication.

Nutritional Guidelines

The following is a listing of the dietary guidelines as recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Guidelines are updated every 5 years. Guidelines are based upon a 2,000 calorie/day diet and do not take into account specific diets due to medical conditions.

Food Groups

Consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day.
Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. Select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy and other) several times a week.
Consume 3 or more ounces of whole-grain products per day, or 50% of the total amount of grains consumed per day should be whole grain.
Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.

Fats

Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300mg/day of cholesterol. Avoid trans fats.
Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35% of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
Select lean, low-fat and fat-free options when choosing meats, poultry, dry beans and milk or milk products.

Carbohydrates

Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains often.
Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners.

Water Intake
As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Water helps your body with the following:
  • Keeps the body’s temperature normal
  • Lubricates and cushions the joints
  • Protects the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
  • Gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements
Your body needs extra water when you are:
  • In hot climates
  • More physically active
  • Running a fever
  • Having diarrhea or vomiting
Some people may have fluid restrictions because of a health problem, such as kidney disease. If your healthcare provider has restricted your fluid intake, be sure to follow that advice, otherwise:
  • Drink several glasses of water a day.
  • Increase your water intake when there is an increase in your physical activity
Sodium (Salt)

Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 tsp of salt) of sodium/day
Choose and prepare foods with little salt. Avoid frozen dinners and canned foods.
If you have high blood pressure, aim to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium/day

Alcohol

  • If you choose to consume alcohol then it should be done so in moderation – defined as one drink/day for women and up to two drinks/day for men.
  • Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed by some individuals, including those who are addicted to alcohol, women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, individuals taking medications that can interact with alcohol, and those with specific medical conditions.
  • Alcoholic beverages should be avoided by individuals engaging in activities that require attention, skill, or coordination, such as driving or operating machinery.
Exercise
As recommended by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

There is strong evidence to support the health benefits of physical activity. Below is a list of the benefits:
  • Lowers the risk of early death
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease
  • Lowers the risk of stroke
  • Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lowers the risk of high blood pressure
  • Lowers the risk of adverse blood lipid profile
  • Lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Lowers the risk of colon breast and endometrial cancers
  • Prevents weight gain
  • Promotes weight loss when combined with diet
  • Improves cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Prevents falls
  • Reduces depression
  • Improves cognitive function
Substantial health benefits are gained by doing physical activity. Guidelines for the amount of physical activity to achieve the health benefits are as follows:
  • Adults should do 30 minutes, five days a week of moderate-intensity, or 20-25 minutes three days a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups performed on 2 or more days per week.
  • Adults with disabilities should try to follow the above guidelines. If this is not possible, these persons should be as physically active as their abilities allow.
Pregnant and postpartum women who are not already doing vigorous-intensity physical activity should do at least 30 minutes, five days a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity with approval from their health care provider. Women who regularly engage in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or high amounts of activity can continue their activity provided that their condition remains unchanged and they talk to their health care provider about their activity level throughout their pregnancy.

Well-Being

Stress is common yet difficult to define because it can mean different things to different people. It is generally accepted however, that stress is a negative feeling which can cause physical, emotional and behavioral disorders all of which can affect your health. If you are feeling “stressed” you are not alone; One third of Americans are living with stress. Listed below are the signs of stress. It is important to recognize the signs so that steps can be taken to change stressful situations and positive coping skills can be developed.

Signs of Stress:
  • Feeling angry, irritable or easily frustrated
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Change in eating habits
  • Problems concentrating
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Problems with memory
  • Feeling burned out from work
  • Feeling that you can’t overcome difficulties in your life
  • Having trouble functioning in your job or personal life
It is important to note that if you are feeling overwhelmed, unable to cope and feel as though your stress is affecting how you function every day, it could be something more like, depression or anxiety. Don’t let it go unchecked. Contact your health care provider.

Reference: The National Mental Health Association – Mental Health America

Vehicle Safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people ages 1-34 and nearly 5 million people will be injured each year.

In 2007, 37,248 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the United States, more than half of these people were not wearing a safety belt. Buckle up!

80% of motor vehicle accidents are related to driver inattention with cell phone usage being the leading cause of distraction. Drivers who use a cell phone while they drive are four times more likely to have an accident while driving. Get off your cell phone and stop texting!

In the United States, 36 people every day will die and 700 more will be injured due to motor vehicle accidents caused by an alcohol impaired driver. Don’t drink and drive!

Reference Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Safety Council and Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
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