Older Women’s Health

Our nation’s aging population continues to grow, as does our estimated lifespan, making it imperative that chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other dementias be an important part of the women’s health conversation. Women’s cardiovascular disease (CVD), which encompasses heart disease and stroke, is the number one killer of women in the U.S., and is the leading cause of death among women — now killing more women than men annually — with African-American and Hispanic women at particularly high risk. When it comes to heart disease and stroke, women and men are not the same. Most of the research, diagnostic tools, and treatments only involved men, and too often health professionals and patients aren’t aware of these disparities. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and is eventually fatal. A woman over sixty-five has a one-in-six chance of developing the disease; twice the rate of breast cancer. Caregivers’ health is also put at risk with the burden of caregiving which often lasts a decade or more.

Solutions:
– Invest in women’s health research generally and for disease that disproportionately affect older women specifically.
– Improve families’ access to diagnosis, treatment, and clinical trials.
– Promote access to risk reduction strategies and ideas for living well with Alzheimer’s.
– Educate and empower women to know their risk and take care of their own hearts and adopt healthy lifestyle choices.

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