Heart disease is the number one killer in women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute! But it doesn’t affect all women alike, and the warning signs for women aren’t the same in men.
Well-known symptoms of heart attack include chest pain and radiating discomfort into the left arm. But there are other more silent symptoms that can be associated with a heart attack that women should be aware of. Women can often experience shortness of breath and struggle to breathe a few weeks before experiencing a heart attack. Irregular pain in the jaw or any part of the back can indicate stress to the heart muscle. Flu-like symptoms and nausea are often reported weeks and days before a heart attack. All patients and women in particular are encouraged to trust their intuition and head to the nearest emergency department, if they experience any of the above symptoms and just don’t feel right.
The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women is a national initiative to raise awareness of the risk of cardiovascular disease in women and designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.
In the past, heart disease and heart attack have been predominantly associated with men. Historically, men have been the predominant subject of medical research done to understand heart disease and stroke, which has been the basis for treatment guidelines and programs. This led to an oversimplified, distorted view of heart disease and risk, which has worked to the detriment of women.
Because women have been largely ignored as a specific group, their awareness of their risk of this often-preventable disease has suffered. Only 55 percent of women realize heart disease is their largest cause of death and less than half know what are considered healthy levels for cardiovascular risk factors. The Go Red For Women movement works to make sure women know they are at risk so they can take action to protect their health.
February 6 is National Wear Red Day in support of women and their risk for cardiovascular disease. Help raise awareness to end this killer of women—make a change on National Wear Red Day and wear red to show your support for saving women’s lives!