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Today, the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM) at the Cleveland Clinic released the results of a comprehensive women’s health study showing that American women are largely unaware of the critical and urgent health issues that can affect their lives and long-term health. perspective.

Some of the most startling facts include that 82% of women are unaware that they are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, even though two-thirds of cases are women. In addition, most women did not talk to their primary care physicians about several critical health areas that could put them at risk for disease.

An alarming 73% of women did not discuss their cognitive health with providers, and 62% of women did not discuss menopause or perimenopause — transitional phases in a woman’s reproductive life — that studies show are critical to carefully manage to reduce risk. for Alzheimer’s disease.

Findings will be presented by Maria Shriver, Founder of WAM and Strategic Partner for Women’s Health and Alzheimer’s at the Cleveland Clinic, and Bury Ridgway, MD, Chief of Staff at the Cleveland Clinic, at the Aspen Ideas: Health Festival on Friday, June 24th. and provide insights into the health of women in the US and the factors contributing to the rise in Alzheimer’s cases.

The good news is that the majority of women (71%) in the survey said they had visited a doctor in the past year, with 58% of women rating their overall health as good. At the same time, 56% report not getting enough sleep, 35% say they wake up almost always or often due to physical pain, and two in five women have been diagnosed with or treated for anxiety, depression and insomnia.

“The fact that women experience high levels of depression, anxiety and insomnia but report not knowing that these are often symptoms of menopause means that women can see a doctor but not necessarily have the right conversations,” Shriver said. “The results of the survey are both a wake-up call for women’s health and a great opportunity to change the way health professionals and women think, speak and act on women’s health issues – at every age and at every stage of life. woman’s health period. Women need information, and we all have a responsibility to get it across to them.”

Of the women who reported their physical health as poor, 32% cited chronic illness as the cause. Among those who described their mental health as poor, the majority cited depression (33%) and anxiety (30%). Physical inactivity, chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension, and depression are associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Only 12% of women in this survey reported being aware of a possible link between estrogen loss and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the main area of ​​interest and research funded by WAM at the Cleveland Clinic.

More than half of the women surveyed report that they care about others, with 43% of them saying they pay more attention to other people’s health than their own. Single mothers report the lowest quality of sleep and the highest percentage of women who rate their health as poor or fair (69%).

These figures are important for studying women’s health, as many of the health factors affecting women can be corrected if women are made aware of this empowering health information. Science now suggests that 40% of Alzheimer’s cases can be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.

One positive survey result showed that, once aware of lifestyle factors, women are highly motivated to prioritize them in order to reduce their risk of:

  • 82% will remain mentally/intellectually active
  • 71% maintain a healthy weight
  • 70% remain socially active
  • 70% eat a healthy diet
  • 67% deal with stress
  • 67% began to sleep better
  • 66% exercise regularly
  • 62% quit smoking

“We know that women’s unique biology and life experiences do play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and this study shows the need to educate women about this connection and empower them to start conversations with their providers now so they can prioritize. their brain health and improve overall health,” said Dr. Ridgway. “The Cleveland Clinic officially partnered with WAM in February to do so through research, education and advocacy. This is another reminder of the importance of our work together as a WAM at the Cleveland Clinic.”

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