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Parkland Encourages Women to Focus on Their Health

In a recent survey, the Alliance for Women’s Health and Prevention found that nearly half (45%) of women in the United States are skipping preventive care appointments for services such as check-ups, cancer screenings and vaccinations, often due to rising medical costs or time constraints. The report also found that social needs contribute to additional disparities in preventive care.

“Women’s Health Month is a great opportunity to remind women to make their health a priority and build positive health habits for life,” said Joseph Chang, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Parkland Health. “The first steps are finding a primary care physician (PCP) and establishing their medical home.”

Dr. Chang said often women prioritize primary care for their children and other family members, but resort to urgent or emergency care when they themselves fall ill.

“Having a primary care doctor not only helps you stay healthy through preventive services, like screening tests and vaccines, they can also provide easy access and referrals to a wide variety of specialists when your condition calls for more focused care,” Dr. Chang explained.

It is also important for women to schedule a well-woman visit once a year, he advised. “During this visit your doctor can perform a Pap smear (cervical cancer screening), a physical exam with blood pressure, glucose level and cholesterol panel blood tests, discuss your personal and family history for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc., and assess your risk factors to prevent further or future disease.”

Women’s health screening needs can vary based on age, existing conditions and family history. Parkland doctors recommend the following:

  • Women should schedule a primary care physician (PCP) visit in their 20’s to establish baseline care and go over their family history and determine potential health risks.
  • Women in good health between 20 and 40 years of age should visit their PCP every three years.
  • Women in good health over 40 years of age should visit their PCP annually.
  • Women over 40 should receive secondary preventive care via screenings for certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as osteoporosis.
  • Women over 40 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms. Women should discuss with their doctor the potential benefits of beginning screenings before 40.

“We also want to remind women that what they do every day contributes to their overall health,” Dr. Chang emphasizes.

Women can take steps in their daily lives to improve their health, such as:

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily.
  • Eat a balanced diet, including whole grains, protein and high fiber fruits and vegetables.
  • Prioritizing mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
  • Stopping tobacco use – including e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.
  • Avoiding alcohol.

For more information on services at Parkland, please visit

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