Did you know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women? According to the American Heart Association cardiovascular disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year. Despite the dire predictions, many of these deaths are preventable with education and lifestyle changes. That’s why for the last 17 years, the American Heart Association has placed a special priority on helping women live longer, healthier lives with support and awareness. The first Friday of every February is National Wear Red Day, which is when the nation comes together to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease in women and support causes that help save lives. On this day, across the country, individuals and organizations wear red clothing to show solidarity with women and women’s health.
Why going red is important
There are some similarities; however, the warning signs for heart attacks for women are sometimes more subtle or different than those for men. According to the U.S. government’s Office on Women’s Health, only about 50 percent of women who have had heart attacks experienced traditional symptoms like chest pain. Spreading awareness about cardiovascular disease in women is important because the signs of heart problems and stroke are often unrecognized and/or ignored. For example, a woman having a heart attack may experience back, neck or jaw pain that can be ignored as ordinary discomfort. Or, a woman having a stroke may have a sudden severe headache with no known cause that could be dismissed or wrongly attributed to another condition. In order to help save lives, it’s imperative to put more focus on knowing the early warning signs of cardiovascular disease.
Warning signs of heart attack for women
- Pain in the back, neck, jaw, or throat
- Extreme sweating
- Extreme fatigue
- Problems breathing
- Chest pain
- Pain in the arms
Warning signs of stroke
- Numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of the body
- Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause
How you can help women
In addition to wearing red, some ways to show your support on National Wear Red Day are to talk about cardiovascular disease with women close to you in your community. You can also post messages about heart health and stroke prevention to your social media account and share pictures of yourself wearing red. You can also attend an event that promotes healthy living such as the session that Capitol Hill Healthcare will host this month. Themed, “28 Snacks under 200 Calories,” the activity will feature snack samples and a dietician that will discuss healthy eating. Family and loved ones are welcome to attend.