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Health & Medical

BEYOND TRIM – Red alerts: Know the signs of heart disease

It’s the number one killer of women, but there are ways to reduce the risk

Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center
Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center

The first Friday in February was Go Red Day, when women all over the country wore red dresses to raise awareness for women’s heart disease. The Go Red campaign was implemented in 2004 by The American Heart Association (AHA) as a way to educate and inform more women that heart disease is the number one killer of women.

Go Red also is an acronym that provides advice to help women get started on the road to a healthier heart:

G: Get your numbers, ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.

O: Own your lifestyle, stop smoking, lose weight, exercise and eat healthy.

R: Realize your risk. We think it won’t happen to us, but we need to learn the facts.

E: Educate your family. Make healthy food choices for you and your family and teach your kids the importance of staying active

D: Don’t be silent; tell every woman you know that heart disease is our No. 1 killer.

Other messages of the Go Red campaign revolve around food, fitness, and family history. For example, Go Red foods focus on those that are healthier for our hearts, food such as beets, strawberries, kidney beans, red skin potatoes, and tomatoes.

Heart disease is the cause of one in three deaths in women, on average killing one woman every minute. Apart from being unaware of the prevalence, another reason women may die unnecessarily is that women can experience different heart attack symptoms than men and may not seek treatment as soon as they should. The AHA also recommends learn what to watch for:

1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

4. Other signs, such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you experience any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

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