Women of all ages must deal with a wide variety of hormonal changes throughout their adult life which can often mask symptoms of chronic disease.

Symptoms associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression can often be confused with peri-menopause, premenstrual tension and hormonal imbalances.

It’s beneficial to have a good relationship with your GP who can offer support if you’re displaying symptoms which could lead to chronic disease. While they may refer you to a specialist, your GP will also be there to offer support and guidance as you navigate the changes that a chronic disease diagnosis will bring.

Types of chronic disease

Cardiovascular disease

Your GP may refer you for testing for cardiovascular heart disease as the result of a physical examination or after you’ve displayed symptoms synonymous with heart disease.

There isn’t one exam that can diagnose heart disease but a combination of an ECG (electrocardiogram that monitors the hearts electrical activity), stress testing (your heart rate will be raised to monitor the amount of oxygen-rich blood that is pumped to your heart when it’s under stress), blood tests (to check cholesterol and proteins in the blood), and an X ray.

Once cardiovascular disease has been diagnosed, your doctor can recommend the best medical and lifestyle plan to help you manage your condition.

Diabetes

Diabetes is diagnosed from a fasted blood test and from a glucose tolerance test, the samples of which are analysed at a pathology lab.

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition which can have severe implications on your day to day life so it’s essential that you have the support of your GP if you think you might be at risk. Symptoms include increased frequency or urination, persistent thirst and fatigue.

Cancer

Cancer can affect all parts of the body and at all stages of life. There are many treatments available which include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and your doctor will provide support through this challenging time, as well as managing a post-operative program for you too.

A cancer diagnosis is life-changing and impacts the whole family so it’s essential that you have medical support to help you manage your journey.

Depression

Depression impacts the life of the patient and everyone around them and your GP will provide you with professional and emotional support to manage your diagnosis. There’s no quick fix for depression, so it’s essential that you have a GP who is familiar with your history and can manage your medication and mental health plan where applicable.

Arthritis

Arthritis presents itself in the form of swollen and painful joints, loss of mobility and often crippling pain. Your doctor will diagnose arthritis from blood tests, a physical examination, and X-rays. There are many forms that arthritis can take and as there is no cure, early diagnosis is essential for you to learn how to manage the chronic condition.

If you’re suffering with any chronic condition, it’s essential that you have a GP who you’re comfortable with and who understands your journey. Learning to live with chronic illness isn’t just physical, it also comes with emotional obstacles to overcome so all the support you can get is essential.