Metro doctor works to broaden definition of women’s health

Health
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- When you think of women's health, you probably think of reproductive and breast health. A metro doctor saw a need to broaden the definition, and now the American Medical Association has agreed.

Brooklyn McDonald had sharp pain in her knees with walking. It was worse when the eighth grader played volleyball. Doctors couldn't tell her why.

"Not knowing what it was for so long is very stressful and nerve-wracking," said Brooklyn.

Then she saw Dr. Kim Templeton, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Kansas Hospital, who told her she had anterior knee pain syndrome from instability of the kneecap.

"It's moving around in there," Dr. Templeton said to Brooklyn.

It's a female health problem, seldom occurring in males.

"A lot of girls my age are probably going through the same problem and they don't know what it is either," Brooklyn said.

"Almost every health condition has a difference in cause or presentation or treatment or treatment response between men and women," said Dr. Templeton.

Everything from heart disease to depression. Yet Dr. Templeton says women's health has been thought of as "bikini medicine", including only the anatomic areas covered by a bikini. She pushed for the AMA to change its definition. This year, it did. Women's health is now defined as "conditions for which there is evidence that women's risks, presentations, and/or responses to treatments are different than those of men."

Dr. Templeton hopes it will result in better training of doctors and better treatment along with more research that includes women and looks for differences.

"The majority of drugs that have been removed from the market in the past decade or so have been because there's been an adverse response in women that was not identified in men, frequently because it was most frequently tested in men," she said.

With the correct diagnosis, Brooklyn is now getting physical therapy for her knee problem which is a female health problem.

Just last week, a study in JAMA Cardiology found that traditional treadmill tests to estimate heart disease risk may not provide accurate results for women. The scoring system was developed from studies done only in middle-aged men.

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