Although nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented, cardiovascular diseases continue to be a woman’s greatest health threat. February marks the kick off for the American Heart Association’s signature women’s initiative, Go Red for Women. Using the hashtags #WearRedandGive and #WearRedDay the initiative is aimed at bringing awareness and change to women’s health.
“We wear red to raise awareness about the number one killer of women – heart disease,” said Dr. Tseday Sirak, a cardiologist with Owensboro Health Medical Group. “There is so much women can do to avoid heart disease and the associated risk factors, but prevention is the best medicine. Exercise, a healthy diet and preventative testing could save your life.”
Dawn Wigginton, communications director for the Western Kentucky division of the American Heart Association said women often put others before themselves, which can take a toll on their overall health and prevention.
“One out of every three women will die of heart disease or stroke. That means if you’re sitting with your mother, daughter, or sister — one of you may be affected by heart disease,” said Wigginton. “When it comes to women, we are more apt to take care of others, not get the sleep we need, not exercise or eat healthy to overall take care of ourselves and it’s leading to more and more deaths each year.”
Wigginton and her team are hoping to rally the community together and wear red to bring awareness to such an important women’s health topic.
“Today really is about awareness,” Wigginton said of Friday’s wear red event. “The excitement is knowing that we work really hard for this day and knowing just in this one day we’re going to end up sharing information that leads to our efforts saving a life today.”
Those efforts including knowing the signs and symptoms of both heart attack and stroke. If you have any of these signs, the American Heart Association urges you to call 911 and get to a hospital right away.
Signs and symptoms of a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association’s website:
- 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.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- 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.
Signs and symptoms of a stroke, according to the American Heart Association’s website:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Wigginton also encourages women to go to their doctor and learn their numbers and any risk factors they may have including their family history. They also advocate for lifestyle changes, which are so important to heart health.
“It can be as simple as walking 30 minues a day, cutting down sodium, taking out soda or eating healthier. People may not realize that things like diabetes and obesity are leading to other health issues, including the increased risk of heart disease and stroke,” Wigginton said. “By bringing awareness we’re going to make a difference today.”
To learn more information on the commonly asked questions regarding heart disease in women visit goredforwomen.org.