From Rosie the Riveter to celebrated TV moms like Carol Brady and June
Cleaver to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, women certainly have a lot on their
plates - and unfortunately their health often takes a back seat to their
families and careers.
"The irony is that most women take better care of their cars than their
body, and that is in large part because an annual inspection is required to
continue driving your car," says Donnica Moore, MD, a women's health expert
based in Far Hills, N.J.
By Laura NathanDoubting your diagnosis? Read on to find out what you might really
Sometimes even the best doctors miss the mark: About 40 percent of all
mistakes that M.D.s make are misdiagnoses, says the National Patient Safety
Foundation. That's because many ailments have similar symptoms or can be
detected only with tests that your physician might consider unnecessary if he's
confident in his verdict. If you're in the know about often-confused
conditions, though, you can ask the right...
"Just like we have stickers on our cars to get your inspection renewed,
use this week or your birthday (as I do), to get your checkups," Moore
says. There is no reason not to take advantage of health care screening tests.
"We know that the earlier we identify any potential health problems, the
better our outcome will be," she says. And "if you are totally well, it
gives you great reassurance about a whole list of things don't need to worry
To make the task even easier, WebMD compiled a list of the top five
lifesaving health care screening tests every woman needs and why.
No. 1 Heart Smarts
disease claims about 500,000 women's lives a year. That's more than
the next five causes of death combined, according to the American Heart
Association. But it doesn't have to be this way, says Marianne J. Legato, MD, a
professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and
Surgeons in New York City and the founder of the Foundation for Gender Specific
Medicine. "Without a doubt, 80% of coronary disease can be prevented with
proper lifestyle modifications including healthy diet and increased physical
activity," says Legato, author of several books including Why Men Never
Remember and Women Never Forget.
One way to assess your risk is to get health care screening tests for total
cholesterol levels, high density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good"
cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol, and
blood fats known as triglyceridest.
"If you are older than 50, I also recommend getting your C-reactive protein
(CRP), homocysteine, and lipoprotein (a) (LP(a)) checked," she says.
These blood factors are emerging risk factors for heart disease. CRP is an
indicator of inflammation, while homocysteine is an amino acid that can build
up in the bloodstream and increase your chances of having a heart attack.
Lp(a) is a cholesterol-related risk factor that tends to increase blood
"If there is any question of extra heartbeats, chest pain, or shortness
of breath, women should have a stress
echocardiogram," she recommends. A stress echocardiogram is usually done to
determine whether you have a significantly reduced flow of blood to your
Also, your doctor should test your blood pressure, as high blood
pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, she says.
is another risk factor for heart disease. If you have a family history of
diabetes or are overweight, a blood sugar level or other tests for diabetes are
something you should discuss with your doctor.