Nearly every woman ranks having good health as a top priority in life. Women are more in tune with their bodies than men, doctors say, and can usually tell when something is wrong. However, just because women suspect problems with their health doesn’t mean they’ll see a doctor right away. Too many women ignore the early signs of disease, allowing the miscellaneous duties that consume their daily lives to take priority over their own healthcare. By ignoring the first signs of a potential health problem, women put their lives at risk.

Women typically have no problem scheduling medical appointments for their family members. At the first sign of a cough, fever, or mysterious pain, moms and wives insist their loved ones see a doctor. However, making a trip to the doctor for their own medical needs always seems to get postponed. Eventually, when a woman hears a dreaded diagnosis from her doctor, she’s left to wonder what the outcome would have been had she taken more time for preventive healthcare.

“I have seen so many women put their own health on the backburner to take care of everyone else,” says Dr. Kim Dawson Vernon, an OB/GYN with Medical City Dallas Hospital. “This is unfortunate, since women need to be strong and healthy themselves in order to keep taking care of everyone else.”

Taking time out for healthcare is simple, and the results can be lifesaving. For a healthy woman, just a few check-ups. screenings, and tests each year are all that is required to keep tabs on potential health problems. Combine these doctor visits with exercise and a healthy diet, and a woman is well on her way to optimal health.

With so many health issues affecting women-breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes. and menopause to name a few-knowing when to get the proper screenings and tests is essential.

“Many of the diseases that affect women are silent diseases,” says Dr. Charles Brodsky, a clinical instructor at Baylor University Medical Center and physician with Women’s Health Alliance at Baylor. “Cervical cancer is slow to show signs, as are colon cancer and breast cancer. A woman may have a disease for years without knowing it. This is why annual exams are so important.”

Women in their 20s are relatively healthy. Yet, this is the stage where early preventive measures such as exercise, healthy living, and proper nutrition can result in big payoffs later in life. Women should be faithful about seeing their physicians for annual check-ups because as they age the potential for developing health problems increases, says Dr. Michael Highbaugh, an internist with MedProvider at Baylor University Medical Center.

Doctors recommend that every adult woman see their OB/GYN for yearly exams, perform monthly self breast exams, check for skin cancer, stop smoking, avoid excessive drinking, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy diet. Upon entering their 30s and continuing through their 50s. women must take more serious steps to stay healthy. Here are a few tips from area physicians:


■ Get a mammogram at 35 and every year thereafter if you have a family history of breast cancer.

■Have your cholesterol tested to determine if you are at risk for heart disease, especially if you are in a high-risk category-if you smoke, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or have a family member who had a heart attack before age 55. If you have two or more risk factors, testing for heart disease in your 30s is essential. Cholesterol should be screened every five years.

Begin having thyroid tests every three to five years.

If you plan on having a baby in your 30s, have a pre-conceptual exam and begin taking prenatal vitamins. Also, be screened and get necessary vaccines for Rubella. Vericella, and Hepatitis. You should be tested for HIV as well.

■ Schedule annual pap smears, pelvic exams, and overall physical exams.

H Be aware of your family history and risk factors now to avoid or be prepared for such diseases as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and diabetes.


■ Have a mammogram every’ one to two years.

■ Schedule blood pressure screenings every few years.

■ Add a calcium supplement (1,000 mg each day) to your diet to prevent osteoporosis.

■ If you haven’t already, start eating a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol 10 ward off heart disease.

■ Schedule tests for diabetes after age 40. especially if you have a family history of type II diabetes, are more than 20 percent over your ideal weight, have high blood pressure or a high total cholesterol level, or a history of diabetes during a pregnancy. Ask your physician about other risk factors.

■ Control your weight. Your body will burn calories more slowly because it has less muscle. Eat in moderation, and exercise regularly to reduce the risk of illness.

IN YOUR 50 S ■ Have a mammogram every year.

Schedule annual screenings for osteoporosis fa bone density test) and colon cancer. (Some doctors recommend these screenings at 40).

■ Be evaluated for heart disease and stroke and screened for lipids, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

■ Look into hormone replacement therapies or alternative therapies at the onset of menopause. Some doctors say that by replacing estrogen in your body, you can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by half.

■ I If you smoke, have a chest screen to detect lung cancer.

■ Pay attention to chest pain. Women are more likely to experience angina-pain, tightness, or pressure in their chest that occurs with over-exertion. Also, learn about the possible signs of a heart attack.

■ If you have had a heart attack, see your doctor about taking a cholesterol-lowering medicine to reduce the chance of another heart attack, even if your cholesterol levels appear normal.

■ Know your total cholesterol level and your levels of protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. If your total cholesterol level is high or your HDL is low, your doctor should recommend measures to improve them including a low-fat, high-fiber diet, regular exercise, or medication.

■In addition to your yearly exam from your OB/GYN. begin getting yearly checkups from a general practitioner.


Labeling heart disease as a man’s disease could be a deadly mistake for women. Many women still don’t know or believe they are at a greater risk for heart disease, even though the sobering statistics about it should give any woman cause for concern. Today, heart attack is the leading cause of death among American women. This isn’t a surprise considering that one in five American women have some form of cardiovascular disease. The major risk factor isn’t an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, or even a family of history of heart disease. The greatest risk? Being a woman.

Women are at a greater risk lor heart disease for three reasons: They live longer than men, their blood pressure and cholesterol increase as they age. and menopause causes women to lose the natural estrogen that helped protect their hearts from disease for so many years.

Women die more often from heart attacks than men because they are usually older when they have their attack, and they have smaller arteries, a fact which makes their chance of surviving a coronary bypass procedure lower than that of a man,” says Dr. Alistair Fyfe. a preventive cardiologist with HeartPlace at Medical City Dallas Hospital.

For years heart disease has been thought of as a man’s disease. This attitude must change. Dr. Fyfe says. According to the American Heart Association, 44 percent of women who have heart attacks die within a year, compared to 27 percent of men. Heart disease kills more women each year than all forms of cancer, chronic lung disease, pneumonia, diabetes, accidents, and AIDS combined.

Because move attention is given to other diseases that commonly affect women-usually breast, cervical, and endometrial cancer-women mistakenly believe heart disease isn’t as serious. Although women should rightfully try to prevent cancer. Dr. Fyfe says, they don’t fear heart disease enough, “Combine all of the types of cancer a woman can get. and they’re still twice as likely to die of heart disease.” he says.

Family history of heart-related illnesses (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) increases the risk ol’ heart disease, as does having a parent who had a heart attack before age 55. Smoking, carrying excess weight on the abdomen, having high blood pressure and triglycerides, and physical inactivity are other risk factors.

The following are facts and recommendations about heart disease and women from area doctors and the American Heart Association:

Maintain un ideal body weight by eating a heart-healthy diet. Ask your doctor which foods help right heart disease and which encourage it. The amount of animal fat in a person’s diet has been linked to heart disease. Saturated fatty acids and dietary cholesterol raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat intake to no more than 30 percent of total calorie

To reduce the risk of heart disease, adopt a healthy lifestyle. Avoid or quit smoking and enjoy regular exercise-especially cardiovascular exercise. Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Learn the signs of a heart attack. While a woman’s signs are similar to a man’s, women are more likely than men to experience nausea when having a heart attack. Other signs include violent chest pain, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, exhaustion, and shoulder and arm pain.

During the first six years after a heart attack, the rate of second attacks is 31 percent for women compared with 23 percent for me

As a woman approaches the age of menopause, her risk of heart disease and stroke begins to rise. This can be attributed.

to the loss of natural estrogen. Medical experts have found that more women die of heart attacks after menopause.

Heart disease is almost twice as likely to develop in inactive women than in those who are active. Being overweight can lead to high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes-thus increasing the risk of heart disease.

Excessive and binge drinking can contribute to obesity, high triglycerides, and raised blood pressure-causing heart failure and strok

Incorporate nutrients such as Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids, lycopene (found in tomatoes and tomato products), and flavonoids (found in grapes) into your diet or vitamin intake. They have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Ask your doctor for recommendations on amounts and servings.


Getting an early start on healthcare extends beyond keeping the inside of the body healthy. The outside-the skin-must be cared for at an early age for it to remain healthy as well. Young adults can gauge what their skin will look like at 50 by looking at their parents’ skin at 50, says Beverly Breshers. skin care specialist at Somatique Medical and Dental Spa and member of the Society of Plastic Surgery and Skin Care Specialists.

“If you don’t like what you see. make changes in your skin care routine today,” she says.

To preserve the skin’s youthful, healthy appearance, avoid excessive sun exposure. Bresher recommends wearing sun block with at least a 45 UVA and UVB protection every day. While getting a minima! amount of sun exposure is healthy, overexposure is detrimental to the skin. Add up the hours you’re outside on an average day-walking from the car to the grocery store, working in the garden, taking a walk-and in less than 12 hours you’ve probably exceeded a healthy amount of sun exposure. Lifestyle should also he considered. People who smoke, drink, participai frequently in outdoor activities, travel abroad often, or who take certain medications for diabetes or heart and liver problems are at risk for skin dehydration.

“Our environment is another factor.” Breshers says. “Air pollution, second-hand cigarette smoke, and poor emotional and physical health cause damage to the skin.”

Typically, the results from a woman’s unhealthy habits or lifestyle in her 20s will gradually be reflected in her skin throughout her 30s. 40s, and 50s. Unfortunately, women tend to notice the negative changes in their skin later in life, when more aggressive repair measures are necessary.

“Many women feel like they get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and overnight everything about their skin has changed.” says Dr, Steve Byrd, president of the Board Certified Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeons of Dallas.

Typical signs of aging and skin damage include:


The upper third of the face begins to show age-creases and lines around the eyes and lines in the forehead and neck.


The entire face begins to lose elasticity. Gravity pulls the skin down, causing it to sag.


Marionette lines (the lines from the comer of the lips to the jaw) become more prominent. Neck skin starts to collapse.


To help prevent or delay these tell-tale signs of aging, skin care specialists and cosmetic and plastic surgeons recommend everything from drinking water and taking vitamins to having minor cosmetic surgery.

Dr. Brenda Draper, a cosmetic and plastic surgeon at the Sierra Surgery Center, recommends the following to keep skin looking its best at 30,40, and 50.

IN YOUR 30s ■In addition to a regular skin care regime, start using face creams with alpha hydroxy and Retin-A to erase signs of and to prevent sun damage

To keep skin looking young, consider minor procedures such as Botox injections to reduce the appearance of frown lines and crow’s feel and collagen replacement for fine lines around the mouth and to enhance lip fullness that can decrease over time.


I If you haven’t already, begin a regular skin care regime.

■ When exercising, concentrate on upper arms. This is when skin loses its firmness. Work out with low weights at a high repetition for toning this area.

IN YOUR 50s ■ Skin becomes much drier, making adult acne a possibility. Seek treatment from a dermatologist to treat it. Coasider switching from face lotions to creams for better skin hydration.

■ If you are still unhappy with your skin, this may be the time to look into surgical treatments such as eyelid surgery, facelifts, and laser resurfacing.

At any age, the key to healthy, younger-looking skin is comprehensive care-a daily ritual of skin care that moves from the top of your forehead down to your chin, the neck and chest, and even your hands. Whatever skin care regime you use for your face and neck, use for your chest and hands. Bresher says. These areas are most likely to give away your age.

“Comprehensive skin care is something you do consistently,” Breshers says. “You may not see results for months or even a year. You’re skin didn’t get damaged overnight, so you won’t see dramatic improvements overnight.”


Wrinkles aren’t the only evidence of aging. As the years pass, many women notice stiff joints, less energy, and weight gain-problems medicine can’t always heal. One prescription thai will work is exercise. Women who are physically active reap not only extra energy and a more youthful appearance, but major health benefits as well. What may start out as an exercise routine to lose weight and tone up can actually turn into a program that lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and fights osteoporosis and diabetes.

According to the American Medical Association, a five- to 10-pound weight gain during a woman’s 30s, 40s, and 50s can increase her risk of high blood pressure, type II diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important for women if they have a close family member with these health problems. If a woman’s weight isn’t in a healthy range for her height and build, losing weight is essential, The AMA recommends slow and gradual weight loss for maximum, long-term benefits.

Wendy Reese, Fitness Director at the Downtown YMCA, says as women age, their need for exercise increases. Muscles and joints stiffen and weaken, and weight becomes more difficult to control, putting a woman’s health at risk. Here’s why: IN YOUR 30 s A woman in her early 30s begins to produce less estrogen. Since fat helps stimulate estrogen production, this is when women will notice more weight gain. The loss of estrogen also leads to the decline of bone mass density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. By age 35, women begin losing half a pound of muscle per year-but gain it back in fat. Metabolism also decreases due to muscle loss. Women in their 30s tend to have less energy due to this loss in metabolism, leading to physical inactivity that could cause health problems and weight gain.

“During the 30s women realize they can’t eat as much or the same way as they could,” Reese says.


Perimenopause begins in the 40s, Metabolism continues to decrease, as does muscle loss. If a woman didn’t adopt a fitness routine in her 30s she has increased risk for heart disease, diabetes. and osteoporosis. Reese says many women still haven’t learned from their 30s that caloric intake must be decreased, so the 40s are when many women become overweight for the first time in their lives. IN YOUR 50S

Menopause ends for most women in their 50s, and many women find their weight becoming more stable. Take advantage of this, Reese says. Fat cells actually decrease after menopause, .so keeping the weight off becomes a little easier.

However, women in their 50s are at greater risk of osteoporosis because bone density begins to drop sharply if hormone replacement therapy is not administered. Lack of exercise and dietary calcium can also contribute to bone loss during this time.


Optimal health benefits are derived from a combination of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Cardiovascular exercise helps lower blood pressure, decreases the risk of diabetes and heart disease, lowers stress levels, and revs up energy levels. Strength training prevents osteoporosis by increasing lean muscle mass and bone density. Strength training also enhances range of motion and bums more calories by boosting the metabolism.

“While the benefits of exercise are similar for all ages, women should understand the changes that occur within their bodies as they age to determine the best exercise programs for their own needs.” Reese says. ’Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and make it enjoyable.”


Women who exercise regularly reduce their risk of heart disease, some cancers, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Medical experts recommend that women incorporate fitness into their daily routines. Exercise doesn’t have to be grueling for women to reap benefits. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk around the block during lunch, or rollerblade with the kids after work.


What a woman eats has a direct effect on her health. Medical studies prove that a healthy diet can help ward off cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. By limiting total fat intake to no more than 30 percent of total calories, a woman reduces her risk of heart disease.


Severe stress can lead to illness in some women. Take a break to de-stress. Massage works well for many women. Its mental and physical benefits provide the right attitude and energy required to tackle a busy day.


Heart disease is almost twice as likely to develop in inactive women than in those who are active, so exercise is key. Being overweight leads to high cholesterol and blood pressure.


Playing; with your kids is a great way to burn calories. Play at the same intensity level they do just a few times a week, and the pounds will begin to drop.


No time to work out?There’s no such thing, says Wendy Reese, Fitness Director a! the Downtown YMCA, It possible, start your day with exercise to jump-start metabolism and keep it up all day. Then you’re ready to squeeze in the following quick ways to exercise into your daily routine.

Park farther away from your office, the shopping mall, etc. and walk.

Walk around your building in lieu of a coffee break.

By pass the elevator; take the stairs,

Go to another floor to use the restroom.

If you have children, play with them at the same intensity they’re playing.

Take two-minute breaks at your desk every hour and do an exercise with resistance tubing, or use your laptop.

Whenever you have a spare minute at home, do some lunges or squats, If seated on the floor already, do some push-ups or crunches. Try some seated dips or bicep curls while watching television.



Scott W. Harris, M.D.

9 Medical Parkway, Ste. 306

Dallas, TX 75234


Dr, Scott Harris, board certified in plastic surgery, specializes in breast enhancement, liposculpture, and facial cosmetic surgery. In addition, he is co-founder of Athena Clinics.


3500 Gaston Ave.

Dallas, TX 75246

Baylor Health Care System offers services for women in all stages of life including breast health, obstetrics, gynecology, infertility, osteoporosis, cardiovascular, and diabetes care. For a physician referral, calll-800-4BAYLOR.


411 N.Washington, Ste.6000

Dallas,TX 75246


Dr. Byrd’s practice emphasizes aesthetic surgery. He works to enhance your natural beauty through this highly technical art form. His innovative procedures in aesthetic surgery have earned him international recognition.


Vasdev S. Rai, M.D.

2305 Misty Haven

Piano, TX 75230


Dr. Rai is a board certified plastic surgeon and has been in practice for 17 years. He was named “one of the best plastic surgeons” by D Magazine (1992). All surgeries are performed in an outpatient center.


5468 La Sierra Drive

Dallas, TX 75231


Dr. Draper performs aesthetic or cosmetic plastic surgery of the face and body and believes good communication is key to understanding and successfully achieving her patients’ goals. Board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.


George A. Wooming, M.D., RA.A.D.

1220 Park Central Dr., Ste. 550

Dallas, TX 75251


Specializing in laser hair removal, laser resurfacing, Botox, glycolic peels, permanent lip enhancement, earlobe repair, microdermabrasion, and more.


10 Medical Parkway, Ste. 305 Dallas, TX 75234 ‧ 972-488-9202LPI offers the only documented immediately permanent form of electrolysis in the industry. The Integrated System is effective for all types of hair growth-even those that have resisted or recurred after laser treatment.

WILLIAM K. MILES, M.D., F.A.C.S. B131 Luther Lane, #214 Dallas, TX 75225 214-368-6863

800 8th Ave, #404

Fort Worth, TX 76104


Specializing in combined laser face-lifting/skin rejuvenation, tumescent/ultrasonic liposuction, and endoscopic breast augmentation. American Boards Cosmetic and Facial Plastic Surgery-Accredited Surgery Facility.


5600 W. Lovers Lane, Ste. 212

Dallas, TX 75209 ‧ 214-350-1433

A new approach to healthcare focusing on aging and problem skin, Also an information center to assist patients in finding the best trained and skilled physician specialists in the nation.


2801 LemmonAve.W.#360

Dallas, TX 75204 ‧ 214-220-2712

Dr. Tebbetts is a board certified plastic surgeon and author of “The Best Breast: The Ultimate, Discriminating Woman’s Guide to Breast Augmentation.” His practice specializes in primary cosmetic surgery,


6110 Sherry Lane

Dallas, TX 75248 ‧ 214-363-4444

A commitment to perform the art and science of plastic surgery to its highest degree with compassion, professionalism, and a respect for privacy.


Diane L. Gibby, M.D. 7777 Forest Lane, Building C,Ste. 820 Dallas, TX 75230 ‧ 972-566-6477 The Women’s Center for Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery focuses on women’s special health care needs before, during,, and after surgery. We strive to provide optimal medical care in a warm environment of help you feel confident in achieving your goals with surgery.


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