Home CHEST Thought Leaders It Starts With Turquoise

It Starts With Turquoise

By: Mariam Louis, MD, FCCP

Do you have something turquoise in your closet? If so, wear it this week to mark National Women's Lung Health Week in the United States. The color was chosen help increase awareness within our communities about how lung diseases impact women’s health.

Lung diseases among women affect women differently compared with men and often pose diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. For example, asthma, while a relatively common disease, often has a variable course throughout a women’s lifespan, with sex hormones playing an important determinant of disease severity. Women often have more crippling symptoms and greater health-care utilization. 

However, women are offered the same treatment as their male counterparts with little to any consideration to individualized treatment plans. Lung cancer is another example that highlights the disparity between men and women: every 5 minutes, a woman in the United States is diagnosed with lung cancer and the rate of women being diagnosed with the disease has increased by 87% in the last 40 years. However, only 3% of women cite lung cancer as a top-of-mind health concern.

Despite these differences, women’s lung health has not garnered the same attention among the scientific community as well as the public eye. So what can we do to change this and to raise the awareness? It starts with turquoise.

T – Turquoise Whether you own a turquoise shirt, tie, or even socks—wear it this week to show your support for women’s lung health. Let’s get the conversation started!

U – Understand – We cannot begin a conversation unless we have a solid understanding of the uniqueness of women’s lung health. Take this week to delve deeper into how lung diseases present in women, what treatments work best, and what is on the horizon.

R – Research – For those that have the opportunity, pursue research projects that look at the impact of lung disease in women. In 2015, NHLBI formed the NHLBI Women’s Health Working Group (WHWG) to collaborate with the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health and other trans-NIH initiatives to research women’s health.

Q – Question – Question the status quo when it comes to women’s lung health, and ask yourself how you can better help your patients.

O – Outreach – Use this week to reach out to your colleagues and start outreach programs within your medical and public communities to increase awareness of women’s lung health. Consider free seminars, newspaper articles…your imagination is the limit.

U – Urge Urge your pulmonary patients to get involved and to join local support groups and other community activities that will bring women’s lung health to the forefront.

I – Informed Get informed about your local and regional scientific chapters and resources. It is a great way for you to connect with others within your medical community and pool your efforts to help your patients. Don’t forget national and international meetings!

S – Social media – For those who use social media, get involved! Use this week to get the word out about women’s lung health.

E – Educate Educate your patients. An educated patient is an empowered patient and will be like a pebble causing a ripple effect to educate others about women’s lung health.

This week, mark National Women's Lung Health Week—let us stand together and start with turquoise. It is time that we bring it to the forefront.

Dr. Mariam LouisDr. Mariam Louis is a member of the CHEST Women’s Health NetWork and specializes in internal medicine, with further interest in pulmonary disease/respirology and sleep medicine.