Heartfelt Differences: Sex-based Disparities in Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease stands as the primary cause of death among men and women.¹ Cardiovascular disease is a general term to describe various conditions of the heart and blood vessels such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and heart attacks. However, there are differences in how heart diseases develop and appear based on sex. The goal of this blog is to bring awareness to women’s heart health, a topic often unnoticed. 

Difference 1: Presentation of Symptoms

Men: For some conditions, such as heart attack, a common symptom is chest pain.
Women: While women may experience chest pain prior to a heart attack, they may also experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or no symptoms at all. Historical studies mainly conducted heart health research on men, so women experiencing these symptoms of a heart attack may go unrecognized.

Difference 2: Medications Received

Men: In many studies, researchers found that men tend to have more aggressive treatment plans. ²
Women: Compared to men, in many cases women are less likely to receive the necessary medications according to medical guidelines.ibid  Some researchers suspect that women are less likely to speak up about dissatisfaction with their healthcare experiences which may also affect their care.³

Difference 3: Procedures received

Men: Some studies suggest men are more likely to receive life-saving procedures after a cardiac event.
Women: Women receive such procedures at a lower rate than men, and also may experience delayed care. ⁵

The healthcare system needs to improve the gender gap with the clinical care of heart diseases. In the meantime, it is important to find a provider that you trust to manage your heart conditions. At Trust Women’s Healthcare, we take heart health seriously and we are committed to providing our patients with the highest quality of care.  Schedule an appointment with us!

  1. CDC. Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published May 15, 2023. Accessed January 28, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  2. Cho L, Hoogwerf B, Huang J, Brennan DM, Hazen SL. Gender differences in utilization of effective cardiovascular secondary prevention: a Cleveland clinic prevention database study. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 May;17(4):515-21. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2007.0443. PMID: 18345999; PMCID: PMC2836534.
  3. Compared with Men, Women with Heart Disease More Likely to Report More Treatment and Care Disparities. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/2018/12/compared-with-men-women-with-heart-disease-more-likely-to-report-more-treatment-and-care-disparities
  4. Skelding KA, Boga G, Sartorius J, et al. Frequency of coronary angiography and revascularization among men and women with myocardial infarction and their relationship to mortality at one year: an analysis of the Geisinger myocardial infarction cohort. J Interv Cardiol. 2013;26(1):14-21. doi:10.1111/joic.12009
  5. Bugiardini R, Ricci B, Cenko E, et al. Delayed Care and Mortality Among Women and Men With Myocardial Infarction. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017;6(8):e005968. Published 2017 Aug 21. doi:10.1161/JAHA.117.005968

Heart Health 101

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the CDC, one person dies from a heart condition approximately every thirty seconds.¹ Thus, it is important that you maintain healthy habits to ensure your heart maintains its function. Keep reading for some tips you can include in your daily routine to ensure optimal heart health.

  1. Be aware of your health status. It is important to schedule yearly appointments with your primary care provider to monitor different aspects of your heart health such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Also, it is important to recall your family history of heart disease because this may increase your risk of developing such conditions. These first steps are necessary to developing a care plan appropriate for you. 
  2. Moderate changes to your diet. Breathe– we are not telling you to go vegan! Instead of making drastic changes that you won’t be able to sustain, try making subtle changes. For example, use less salt when cooking, bake your meat instead of frying it, and slowly reduce your fast food intake per week. 
  3. Increase your physical activity. Similarly to diet, you do not need to make drastic changes or buy a gym membership. Increasing your physical activity may look like walking instead of driving, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. 
  4. Quit smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases and heart health is no exception. Quitting smoking is easier said than done, but there are many resources through New York City to help you get on track. In the meantime, challenge yourself to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day, and also reduce the frequency of vaping or smoking hookah. 
  5. Reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol can have negative impacts on your health if consumed in excess. Drink in moderation. For women, it is recommended to have no more than 1 drink per day.²
  6. Manage stress. You may not be able to control the uncertainties of life, but you can control how you respond to the stressors. For some, this may include leaning into spirituality and for others it may include meditation and yoga, or tapping into hobbies like listening to music and reading a book.

To conclude, improving your heart health can be possible with baby steps. Schedule an appointment with us to know your heart status and receive personalized tips for your heart health journey.

  1. CDC. Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published May 15, 2023. Accessed January 28, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  2. Facts about moderate drinking | CDC. Published July 25, 2022. Accessed January 28, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm

Speaking of Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that has been on the rise in the United States. According to the latest CDC statistics, the incidence of reported syphilis cases has increased nearly 74% since 2017. Keep reading to learn the facts on syphilis and how to prevent contracting this infection.

Key Facts You Should Know

  • Fact 1: Syphilis is a treatable STI. Because syphilis is a bacterial infection, this condition can be treated with antibiotics similar to chlamydia and gonorrhea. (Fun Fact: You may have heard of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. This clinical study enrolled Black men with syphilis but denied them access to treatment which is extremely unethical. Since this study which occurred in the 1970’s, ethical guidelines were established to ensure future participants, especially minorities, are protected in medical research.)
  • Fact 2: Serious complications can arise if left untreated. Signs and symptoms of syphilis include rash on the hands and/or feet, as well as a single or multiple sore around the mouth or genitalia which is often painless. In many cases, the sores can heal on their own. However, the syphilis infection can still be left in the body causing neurological issues as well as changes in hearing and vision.
  • Fact 3: All those who are sexually active are at risk for infection. Syphilis is spread through direct contact with a sore. Thus, like any other STI, it is important to use condoms and get STI testing prior to engaging in risky behaviors. While these behaviors may minimize risk, the only guarantee of not contracting the infection is abstinence.
  • Fact 4: It is highly recommended that pregnant women receive at least one syphilis test during pregnancy. If you test positive for syphilis, it is important to seek treatment right away because there is a possibility you may pass the infection to the unborn baby. Complications can arise during pregnancy including low birthweight and delivery prematurely.

As stated, syphilis is on the rise, but luckily there is a cure. Take ownership of your sexual health and schedule an appointment for STI screening. 

  1. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2021. Published April 11, 2023. Accessed January 21, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2021/default.htm

Screen Sisters, Screen! Understanding Pap Smears

According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer among women.¹ The American Cancer Society estimates that over 13,000 women were diagnosed in 2023 alone.² Early detection of cervical cancer is key to increasing the likelihood of survivorship. Luckily, women can opt to receive pap smears to find any abnormalities present in the cervix. Keep reading to understand the key reasons why you should get screened!

Reason 1. Screening saves lives. The statistics don’t lie! Since the implementation of systematic cervical cancer screenings in the US from the 1960’s, cervical cancer incidence and deaths have declined by 75%.³ This statistic alone should encourage you to get screened!

Reason 2. Pap smears are especially for those who are at higher risk of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is 6 times more likely among women living with HIV.1 Furthermore, the human papilloma virus (HPV), is another sexually transmitted virus that is strongly linked with cervical cancer. While most HPV infections can clear on their own, unresolved infections can lead to cervical cancer. Lastly, cervical cancer is more prevalent among African-American women.⁴ Women in any of the categories mentioned above should strongly consider getting routine cervical cancer screening.

Reason 3. The exam itself can be done within minutes. Not only is the procedure fast, but you can schedule this exam in the office of a trusted provider. This may be different from receiving a breast mammogram, where oftentimes a referral is needed. Within this exam, the provider will obtain cells from the cervix to be sent for laboratory testing.

To conclude, cervical cancer is a treatable disease if detected early. It is important to have discussion with your provider regarding an appropriate screening schedule based on your age and prior pap smear results. Please schedule an appointment with us for your pap smear!

  1. Cervical cancer. Accessed January 8, 2024. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cervical-cancer
  2. Cervical Cancer Statistics | Key Facts About Cervical Cancer. Accessed January 8, 2024. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/cervical-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
  3. Safaeian M, Solomon D, Castle PE. Cervical cancer prevention–cervical screening: science in evolution. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2007;34(4):739-ix. doi:10.1016/j.ogc.2007.09.004
  4. Yu L. Rural–Urban and Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Invasive Cervical Cancer Incidence in the United States, 2010–2014. Prev Chronic Dis. 2019;16. doi:10.5888/pcd16.180447

Perspectives on Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease affects nearly 1 million women in the United States each year.¹ This infection is caused by bacteria that spreads to the upper reproductive tract causing pain in the pelvic region. Get an introduction to this condition with the quick facts below!

7 Common Questions about PID 

  • How do I contract Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases?
    PID is a complication of commonly treatable sexually transmitted infections. In many cases, PID can result from untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea bacterial infections. However, PID can also result from other bacterial infections that are not sexually transmitted.
  • What organs are impacted by PID?
    This infection can affect organs of the reproductive tract including the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes.
  • What are some signs and symptoms?
    PID can cause many symptoms including abnormal bleeding patterns including bleeding after sex or in between menstrual cycles, abnormal and odorous discharge, fever, pain during urination or sex, and pelvic pain in general. 
  • Is this a curable condition?
    PID can be cured with antibiotics if treated early on. Delaying treatment can result in permanent damage to reproductive organs.
  • I had PID once before, can I get it again?
    Yes, you can get this infection again. In fact, those who have a history of PID are at higher risk of reinfection.
  • What happens if PID is left untreated?
    If this infection is left untreated, complications may including scarring of reproductive organs, difficulties conceiving (infertility), and chronic pelvic pain.
  • How can I prevent PID in the future?
    If sexually active, use contraceptives to prevent the spread of STIs and get frequent STI testing. Also, refrain from douching, which can spread bacteria from the vagina to organs of the reproductive tract.

The symptoms of PID are quite similar to other gynecological conditions. Thus, if you are experiencing any symptoms above, it is important to consult with your provider. Schedule an appointment with us for any of your gynecological concerns.

  1. What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID? Accessed December 17, 2023. https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/3804/#

 Infertility Insights

Infertility is more common than you suspect. About 20% of women are unable to conceive for the first time after one year of trying.¹ It is important to note that fertility challenges can also be attributed to male-specific factors. However, in this article we will highlight some of the risk factors of infertility among women. Keep reading!

Risk Factors of Infertility

  1. Smoking. Smoking has been proven to impact fertility in both men and women. For women, research indicates that smoking can impact hormone production, making it more difficult for a woman to conceive. 
  2. Alcohol. Drinking alcohol in moderation is not a risk factor. However, consuming alcohol in excess can increase risk of infertility. One study found that those who are dealing with alcoholism may be at higher risk of early menopause, affecting their potential to conceive.
  3. Age. After the age of 30, one’s fertility begins to decline. This decline becomes more rapid by age 35 and by the age of 45 conceiving naturally is highly unlikely. As women age, so do the eggs in her ovaries and the overall number of eggs decreases with time– this is one of the hallmarks of menopause.
  4. Weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight can minimize risk of infertility because your body will more likely be able to produce the right amount of estrogen. Being overweight or obese can increase the amount of the estrogen hormone produced in your body. Similar to estrogen birth controls, this excess amount of estrogen can prevent or delay ovulation, a necessary process needed to conceive. Being underweight can also increase risk for infertility because the body may stop producing estrogen. A lack of estrogen may stop ovulation altogether.
  5. Conditions of the reproductive tract. In order to conceive, you need a functional reproductive system. Conditions that impact your reproductive tract may make it difficult to conceive. For example, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can cause difficulties with ovulation and endometriosis can cause growths of tissue in the fallopian tubes making it difficult for an egg to be implanted for fertilization. Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can also impact the structure and function of the fallopian tubes.

At Trust Women’s Healthcare we provide a stigma free environment especially for women that may have difficulty conceiving. Schedule an appointment with us for fertility counseling services.

  1. Infertility | CDC. Published April 26, 2023. Accessed December 11, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm

Making Meaning of Menopause: Nourishing Your Noggin

With an aging US population, Alzhemiers and Dementia have been a hot topic around aging. These conditions are diseases which impact the brain that can lead to changes in daily function. The onset of menopause can influence the production, connectivity, and death of brain cells. These dynamics, in turn, can impact brain regions essential for memory.¹ However, there are steps one can take to minimize the progression of cognitive decline that occurs during aging–keep reading to find out!

Preventive steps for optimal brain health

  1. Eating healthy. Did you know brain health is connected to heart health? Those with cardiovascular diseases are at higher risk for diseases such Alzhiemers.  Thus, it comes with no surprise that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables–and even fish can be beneficial for the brain. Specifically, research has proven that Mediterranean diets can significantly decrease risk of such brain impairments.²
  2. Physical activity. Staying physically active and eating a balanced diet often go hand-in-hand. In terms of brain health, this is no exception. Exercise does not just impact your physical health, but moderate exercise can also help protect against cognitive decline. Consider ways you can include more physical activity into your daily routines.
  3. Social Interaction. Research indicates that individuals with strong social connections are less prone to cognitive decline. One study revealed that individuals experiencing loneliness may face up to a 40% increased risk of dementia.³ Engaging in social activities not only enhances attention and memory, but also may strengthen the connections between brain cells. You may want to consider connecting with old friends, or perhaps joining different social groups such as places of worship or volunteering organizations. 
  4. Brain Exercises. Engaging in moderately difficult cognitive tasks may delay the onset of certain neurological diseases. One study found that those who had more engagement in cognitive tasks such as reading and completing puzzles, were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s later in life in comparison to those who were diagnosed at a younger age with lower activity levels. As you age, continue to read, whether that’s a book, news article, or blogs like this one. Even if you are not a fan of reading, engaging in mindfulness games such as chess can provide benefits!

In many cases, it is easy to overlook the connection between brain health and menopause. However, there are several opportunities to prevent or delay declines in cognitive function as we age. If you have any questions or concerns regarding what to expect during your transition into menopause, schedule an appointment with us!!

  1. Goldstein. Menopause and memory: Know the facts. Harvard Health. Published November 3, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/menopause-and-memory-know-the-facts-202111032630
  2. MPH MT MD. What’s good for the heart is good for the mind. Harvard Health. Published November 23, 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/whats-good-for-the-heart-is-good-for-the-mind-2018112315405
  3. Sutin AR, Stephan Y, Luchetti M, Terracciano A (2018) Loneliness and risk of dementia. J Gerontol Series B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 75, 1414–1422.

Trichonomics: 9 Facts on Trichomoniasis

Out of the common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), trichomoniasis is a condition less familiar to many. Unlike prevalent bacterial infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea,  trichomoniasis is a parasitic infection. Despite its unfamiliarity, nearly 2 million people in the United States were diagnosed with this condition in 2018.¹ Keep reading to learn the facts about this STI.

The Facts

Obesity is linked to several chronic diseases including the following:

  1. This STI is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis.
  2. Some individuals have a higher likelihood of trichomoniasis infection. Women tend to have a higher prevalence than men. Also, studies have found that older women, and women of African American women tend to have a higher prevalence compared to other ethnic groups.ibid
  3. This STI is passed through unprotected sexual contact with a person with the parasitic infection. 
  4. In many cases, individuals with the infection are asymptomatic. Only 30% of individuals with this infection have symptoms which may include discomfort during urination and sex, abnormal vaginal discharge, and itching or burning in the vaginal region.²
  5. A person that is asymptomatic with trichomoniasis can still spread the infection to others.
  6. Like many other STIs, this condition is diagnosed by getting a swab of the vaginal region and sending it to a lab for confirmation of the presence of the parasite.
  7. Trichomoniasis is a curable condition. Providers can prescribe medications to eliminate the parasite. However, in the meantime sexual activity should be paused until the completion of medication. 
  8. Complications may arise from this infection if left untreated. For example, there is an increased likelihood of contracting HIV. Furthermore, pregnant women with trichomoniasis are at risk of having a preterm delivery..1
  9. Abstinence from sexual activity is the best way to prevent contracting trichomoniasis. However, wearing condoms and getting STI screenings with your partner prior to engaging in sexual behaviors can minimize your risk.

The information above is a brief overview of Trichomoniasis. However, if you have further questions about this condition, or concerns about your sexual health overall, schedule an appointment with us!

  1. CDC – Trichomoniasis Statistics. Published April 5, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stats.htm
  2. STD Facts – Trichomoniasis. Published June 28, 2022. Accessed November 18, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm

Weight & Wisdom: Obesity as a Risk Factor

Obesity has become increasingly prevalent in the United States over the past few decades. Obesity is determined by body mass index (BMI), which is a ratio between an individual’s weight and height. Some may attribute the rise in obesity to the poor American diet. Others believe this increase is associated with the rise of technology, and the subsequent decrease in physical activity. Unfortunately, African American women are disproportionately affected by this condition as 80% of Black women are overweight or obese.¹ Below, you will find the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight.

Health conditions linked to obesity

Obesity is linked to several chronic diseases including the following:

  1. Diabetes. Obesity is the primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Obese women are at least 28 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in comparison to women of normal weight.²
  1. Cardiovascular disease. Obesity can have negative impacts on heart health. Excessive fat can raise bad cholesterol levels. Also, obesity can cause an increase in blood pressure, which may eventually lead to heart attack. Heart attacks are more prevalent among obese individuals. 
  1. Cancer. Obesity is linked to 13 types of cancer.³ These include cancers that predominantly affect women such as breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers. Researchers believe obesity can trigger inflammation from the immune system and cause imbalance in hormone regulation which may lead to the development of cancer. 
  1. Mental health. In addition to physical health, obesity can impact emotional and mental wellness. Those who are obese are likely to experience depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.⁴ 

There are many more conditions that are linked to obesity in addition to what is mentioned above. The good news is, losing weight is not impossible! At Trust Women’s Healthcare, we offer medically-managed weight loss services. If you are ready to transform your health, schedule an appointment with us!

  1.  Obesity and African Americans | Office of Minority Health. Accessed November 3, 2023. https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/obesity-and-african-americans
  2.  Barnes AS. The epidemic of obesity and diabetes: trends and treatments. Tex Heart Inst J. 2011;38(2):142-144.
  3.  Obesity and Cancer | CDC. Published August 14, 2023. Accessed November 13, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/obesity/index.htm
  4.  Sarwer DB, Polonsky HM. The Psychosocial Burden of Obesity. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2016;45(3):677-688. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2016.04.016

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