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In 2003, research revealed heart disease was by far the No. 1 killer of women, and actually killed more women than men. One in 30 women die from breast cancer each year, while one in three dies of cardiovascular disease.
To save lives and raise awareness of this serious health issue, the American Heart Association launched Go Red For Women, making the red dress an iconic symbol in the battle against heart disease in women.
National Wear Red Day – the first Friday each February – brings attention to this silent killer of women.
That day, people are encourage to wear red, raise their voices, know their cardiovascular risk and take action to live longer, healthier lives.
The Springs Memorial Hospital family observed National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 7, to encouraged its staff and volunteers to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart disease in women.
The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest.
But it’s not always severe or even the most prominent symptom, particularly in women.
Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:
• Neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
• Shortness of breath
• Nausea or vomiting
• Lightheadedness or dizziness
• Unusual fatigue
These symptoms are more subtle than the obvious crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks. This may be because women tend to have blockages not only in their main arteries, but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart – a condition called small vessel heart disease or microvascular disease.
Many women tend to show up in emergency rooms after much heart damage has already occurred because their symptoms are not those typically associated with a heart attack.
If you experience these symptoms or think you're having a heart attack, call 911 immediately
Decade of success
Since the first National Wear Red Day in 2003, tremendous strides have been made in the fight against heart disease in women. Research and education about healthy lifestyle changes have led to 34 percent fewer women dying from heart disease, which is saving 330 lives every day.
More women are taking ownership of their health by developing healthy lifestyles:
• An estimated 37 percent of women are losing weight
• Forty-three percent are checking their cholesterol
• More than 50 percent of women exercise more
• Sixty percent have improved their diets
• More than 33 percent of women have developed heart health plans with their doctor.
Awareness is also risen, with 23 percent more Americans now realizing heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Awareness among minorities is up, doubling among Hispanic women and tripling among Black women.
Also, 15 percent of women have quit smoking, and high cholesterol has declined by 18 percent.