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Tennessee Department of Health reminds women to make health a priority

From Staff Reports

The Tennessee Department of Health joins the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health in celebrating National Women’s Health Week. This nationwide initiative calls attention to the importance of women’s health and empowers them to take small, manageable steps for longer, healthier and happier lives. These steps include visiting a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings; getting active; eating healthy; paying attention to mental health, including managing stress and getting enough sleep; and avoiding unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, not wearing a seatbelt and texting while driving.

“National Women’s Health Week is important because it encourages women to make time for their health,” said TDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Michael Warren, MD MPH. “With National Women’s Health Week, we remind women that they, too, need to visit their healthcare provider, make sure their screenings are up-to-date, and focus on ways to be as healthy as possible.”

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for Tennessee women, claiming more than 7,000 lives in 2014. The second leading cause of death for women in Tennessee is cancer (including lung cancer), followed by chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for these and other diseases. In 2014, 23 percent of adult women in Tennessee were current smokers.

“Women are often the caregivers for their families and as a result, forget to make their own health a priority,” said TDH Family Health and Wellness Director Morgan McDonald, MD. “There are simple steps all women can take to reduce their risk for heart disease and other leading causes of death and to improve their overall health.”

The Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine is a counseling service available at no charge to all Tennesseans who want to stop tobacco use.  Free nicotine replacement patches are also offered through the QuitLine. Quitting smoking greatly reduces an individual’s risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. For more information, contact the QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or visit the website www.tnquitline.org.

Healthier Tennessee is an initiative of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness focused on improving the health of Tennesseans. Healthier Tennessee encourages individuals to improve their overall health by starting with small changes to move more, eat smarter and cut out tobacco. The Healthier Tennessee website offers a variety of tools for individuals, workplaces and communities. A mobile app for IOS/Android called Streaks for Small Starts is available to make the goal of a healthier lifestyle less overwhelming with small steps, daily reminders, encouragement and the ability to track progress. Learn more a thttp://healthiertn.com.

All Tennessee women are encouraged to visit their health care provider for evaluation of current health status, screenings such as mammograms and Pap smears and planning for health improvement. Make a pledge today to take at least one step for better health. TDH offers a variety of women’s health services including family planning and breast and cervical cancer screening. For more information on women’s health services available in your area, contact your local health department.

For more information on National Women’s Health Week, go to www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw.