women hesitate to tell the doctors about their treatable
improving their health together is the concept behind Heart Secrets at
Columbia St. Maryís. Participants learn from experts on diet,
exercise, gynecology and midlife health ó and from fellow patients
ó in group settings that last up to two hours. Besides these
"shared medical appointments," women also meet individually
with a preventive cardiologist. At the home or office, patients can
use exclusive health tracking tools and other online resources.
Waist size, not weight, is a key predictor of cardiac disease, but
it can affect women of any shape or size, or age for that matter.
Stress, depression and menopause are factors, too. Add it all up and
heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Thatís why Heart
Secrets, which launched last year, urges women to rethink their ideas
on how to be healthy.
Prolapse is common and treatable
Itís time women get past "the Ďickí factor" and
learn about treatments for pelvic organ prolapse, says Dr. Dennis
Miller, a urogynecologist with Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group in
The condition some call dropped bladder or dropped uterus is
"exceptionally common," adds Miller. It occurs when the
vagina, over time and often due to childbirth, loses its ability to
support surrounding organs. POP can be painful and can contribute to
incontinence. In severe instances, tissue can begin protruding from
the vaginal opening.
Unlike 10 years ago, no longer is a hysterectomy a given. And, the
picture is brightening further due to new-generation mesh devices
(such as the Pinnacle, developed by Miller) that strengthen the
vaginal structure. Minimally invasive surgery is advancing, too.
These days, Miller says, "Procedures are easier to tolerate
regardless of your age or medical condition, and have much higher
rates of success."
Don't stay on the sidelines with incontinence
Surgery turned out to be the answer when Chris Skumatz, an active
mother of four, experienced stress urinary incontinence. Seven months
after her operation in 2009, she completed a half-marathon and sent
her doctor finish-line photos tagged "one satisfied
Problems linked to coughing, sneezing or exercise are "classic
young-mom leakage" according to Dr. Sumana Koduri,
urogynecologist with Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin
Womenís Incontinence and Sexual Health program, who treated Skumatz.
Causes include childbirth, smoking, and chronic constipation, coughing
or heavy lifting. Pre-surgical treatments include Kegel exercises (10
squeezes, three times a day) and pelvic floor therapy.
Urge incontinence, meanwhile, is the "gotta go" problem.
When linked to an overactive bladder, it can be treated with
medication or even a pacemaker-style device to modulate the nerves
that go to the bladder.
Skumatz, who lives in Oconomowoc, needed slings implanted to
support her bladder and uterus. "I just feel badly for women
years ago who didnít have this as a possibility," she says.