By: Dorothy Fink, M.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health and Director of the Office on Women’s Health
Summary: What the HHS Office on Women’s Health Can Do for You During National Women’s Health Week and Beyond: Translating Scientific Evidence into Action and Policy
As we kick off National Women’s Health Week today, I invite you to join with millions of women across the country who are committed to Ending the Pandemic and Elevating Women’s Health.
During this unprecedented time, the HHS Office on Women’s Health remains committed to providing up-to-date, actionable health information to women. National Women’s Health Week 2021 encourages women to protect themselves against COVID-19, catch up on delayed health care, and take steps to improve bone, muscle, immune system, and heart health. By sharing the evidence and federal guidelines, we seek to empower women to protect their health and the health of those they love.
During National Women’s Health Week, we invite you to join us online for Twitter chats, health quizzes, and webinars, where we will share tips, tools, and the latest scientific evidence about how to improve physical and mental health.
Below are four evidence-based keys to ending the pandemic and elevating your health right now:
- Get the COVID-19 vaccine and other catch-up vaccines. COVID vaccines reduce the risk that you or someone you love will be hospitalized or die from the virus. The currently authorized vaccines are available now to anyone over the age of 16, as well as all pregnant and breastfeeding women. Talk with your health care provider to learn more.
- Make a plan to schedule postponed medical care. Talk to your doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, and/or physician assistant about preventive care such as PAP smears, mammograms, bone density scans, stress tests, cholesterol screenings, blood pressure screenings, physical exams, and other preventive health screenings that you may have missed during the pandemic.
- Evaluate your calcium and vitamin D intake with the help of your healthcare provider. Calcium and Vitamin D are important nutrients for your bone and muscle health across the lifespan. Low vitamin D intake remains a public health concern, according to the USDA and HHS’s recently published Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. In fact, 97% of women in the U.S. do not get enough Vitamin D from food and beverages. Not only does Vitamin D – obtained through food, sunshine, and supplements – boost bone and muscle health, it also helps boost your immune system. Your doctor can prescribe a simple blood test to check vitamin D levels and create a plan to ensure you’re getting enough of the essential nutrient.
- Protect your heart. Heart disease accounts for about 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States each year. Though we all want to believe we are young at heart, certain risk factors – such as diabetes, obesity, and smoking – may prematurely age our hearts. CDC researchers recently found “excess heart age” even among women of reproductive age. Read more about this study and the factors driving disparities here.
Thank you for engaging with us this week and throughout the year. Together we will continue to improve the health of women and girls during the pandemic and beyond.