At the beginning of the 20th century, the leading causes of death for both U.S. women and men were infectious diseases, and there was a much higher likelihood of women dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. In 2015, chronic conditions – particularly heart disease and cancer – accounted for the majority of deaths in the United States for both women and men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While women today have a longer life expectancy than men, they do not necessarily live those extra years in good physical and mental health. In addition, maternal mortality rates among U.S. women have been steadily rising over the past two decades. Therefore, it is important to enhance the health system’s responsiveness to women's needs, address and eliminate healthcare disparities, and empower women to make well-informed healthcare decisions.
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