The top five leading causes of death in Australian women are dementia, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while some of the most disabling illnesses for women include anxiety, depressive disorders and back pain.
While these illnesses are statistically common, it doesn’t mean you have to fall victim. Early detection, lifestyle changes and treatment can allow you to more easily manage these conditions, or even prevent them.
Below, I offer my tips to avoid common health problems and live a healthier, happier and healthier lives.
A simple visit to the GP for regular tests could save your life. Check-ups on blood pressure, cholesterol and weight are all key health factors to be aware of.
Regular daily physical activity can make a significant difference to your health and help prevent serious health issues from emerging. Research shows that just 15 extra minutes of brisk walking five days a week can reduce your risk of developing a serious disease by 13 per cent.
Visit your GP or a dietitian for advice on making healthy changes to your diet to improve your health. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, wholegrain cereals and legumes, while avoiding foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, such as pizza, pastries and fried foods.
Giving up smoking reduces the risk of premature death and can add as much as 10 years to your life expectancy. It also reduces your risk of developing a number of serious conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer.
It is important to visit a doctor if you are experiencing mental health symptoms and noticing a change in your mood. Low energy, fatigue and sleep issues can also be linked to poor mental health. Seeking professional help to address symptoms will help you better manage and even combat any issues you are experiencing. A GP may develop a mental health plan, which are Medicare-subsidised, that outlines actionable steps and strategies to improve your mental health and help you work towards a better quality of life.
Requesting a pathology test as part of your regular doctor visits can help you address potential vitamin deficiencies and help diagnose health issues early. I recommend seeking tests annually to check your iron, vitamin D and cholesterol levels. If you have a family history of chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease, your doctor will organise more frequent tests to help you manage your blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels. Ultimately, seeking regular check ups and pathology tests will help you uncover and address health issues early to avoid exacerbating them or developing more serious conditions down the track.
Big thanks to Dr Andrew Thompson for sharing his advice with us! As always, if you're worried about your health or looking to make major changes to your lifestyle, see your GP for personalised health advice.
Dr Andrew Thompson is a registered doctor at leading telehealth and prescription service InstantScripts. Dr Thompson has nearly a decade of experience, including as an anaesthetist in the paediatrics, cardiology, trauma, and neurosurgery departments in hospitals, and as a telehealth doctor at InstantScripts, where he consults to 30-50 patients a day. His expert commentary has appeared in major media where he provides advice on maintaining good physical and mental health, and addresses issues around the accessibility and affordability of healthcare for Australians. www.instantscripts.com.au
For more articles featuring Dr Andrew Thompson's advice take look at GP Closed, But You Still Need a Doctor? Emergency Isn’t Your Only Option