Everyone knows that women aren’t little men, but the health differences between the sexes are more numerous than you may think.

Dr. Chandra Sharma, Family Medicine physician, Woodridge Clinic, says, “Some women aren’t aware when they’re having a heart attack, as their symptoms present differently than men’s pains.  A man may have intense chest discomfort, while a woman could have jaw or abdominal pain, which could mislead her to delay life-saving treatment.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  “Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a ‘man’s disease,’ about the same number of U.S. women and men die each year of heart disease.”

Dr. Sharma advises women to have annual check-ups, complete with blood tests to monitor cholesterol, triglyceride, iron, and thyroid levels, to catch problems early.  “I recommend a comprehensive metabolic panel, and blood pressure checks every year.  Many women have a tendency to take care of others first and ignore their own health.  Preventative medicine is less time-consuming and less costly in the long run,” she adds.

“All women after age 50 should be especially vigilant to exercise, maintain ideal body weight, and eat a healthy diet rich in leafy vegetables,” Dr. Sharma recommends.  “I don’t encourage alcohol consumption, but some patients are able to drink occasionally without any problems.  If patients smoke, we urge them to reduce their consumption gradually and eventually stop completely.”

Dr. Sharma praises routine mammograms and pap smears for detecting cancers early, which leads to better outcomes.

The CDC says about ten million American women — one in every five women — are afflicted with heavy menstrual bleeding that lasts more than seven days.  Sufferers are encouraged to talk to their doctor to rule out any bleeding disorders and begin a treatment plan.