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Christine Jeffries

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Wear Red Day Creates Heart Disease Awareness

By Pat Elliott HERWriter Guide
 
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Quick, can you name the top killer of American women? Most get it wrong. Dead wrong. You have a chance to change this.

The fact is, too many women die each year because they don’t know heart disease is their number one killer. One in three women die of this largely preventable disease, that’s almost one woman every minute.

In the past, heart disease was viewed as a "man’s" disease and prevention and treatment measures for women were slighted. Women’s heart disease has also been overshadowed by marketing efforts to raise breast cancer awareness through “pink” marketing. While one in 30 American women die of breast cancer, about one in three women die from cardiovascular disease.

Friday, Feb. 5 is national Wear Red Day, a day we can mobilize to learn more about cardiac risks, disease prevention and treatment. The wear red movement started in 2002 when a red dress was introduced as a national symbol for women's heart disease. Now, the movement is a national awareness campaign involving many organizations. Organizers said American women need “an urgent wake up call” to protect their heart health.

Why is this wake-up call crucial?

• Cardiovascular disease kills approximately 450,000 women each year. That's about one every minute.
• More women die of cardiovascular disease than the next five causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.
• Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
• One in five women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
• Heart disease is largely preventable. In fact, 80 percent of cardiac events in women may be prevented if women, exercise, eat healthy and abstain from smoking.

Will you wear red this Friday? More importantly, will you seize the occasion and take steps to lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack? A healthy lifestyle and diet are key, as well as learning about your family’s heart history. There are many good articles and videos available on EmpowHER to assist you.You may want to meet with your healthcare provider to discuss specific steps to take to improve your heart health.

Add a Comment5 Comments

Pat Elliott HERWriter Guide

Diane and Rebecca - Thank you for your thoughtful, informed replies to my post. I especially appreciate the links you provided for the benefit of those who may read this long after Wear Red "Day" is over. I saw women everywhere in red today, and many of them proudly took photos and shared them on Facebook and other online sites. There were also many men joining in, including the CEO of one of the largest companies in my community. By working together to increase awareness of heart disease, and share information about prevention, warning signs and treatment, everyone benefits. Beyond that, more research related to women's specific cardiac needs is critical, and more women need to be included in clinical trials. It's good to have so many lay people and healthcare professionals addressing these concerns.

Best regards, Pat

February 5, 2010 - 6:47pm
RebeccasHeart

Dear Pat;
Thank you for bringing attention to one of the most significant health issues for women; heart disease.

I enjoyed your post and found the comments that followed very interesting. Specifically the comment that those who advocate for women and heart disease have it all wrong as to why more women die than men.

As for the diagnosis of heart disease, both men and women are in the same boat. We are all subject to the exact same tests and given the same course of treatment. That is, if in fact heart disease is diagnosed when a women presents with angina.

Having been diagnosed with Ischemic Heart Disease, the standard testing for heart disease did not initially diagnose my condition. It was only after a specific test geared towards microvascular dysfunction when a diagnosis was determined.

Therein lies my point. Those specializing in cardiac research have stated that past clinical trials have been done according to the symptoms that men present. Because women have different symptoms than men, research is now being done to determine how best to treat women as heart disease affects them differently.

What some might consider gender-biased research is life saving research for others.

Finally, to call into question the motives of those trying to raise awareness of a condition that remains the number one killer of women escapes me. After all, heart disease affects us all. Both men and women are affected; therefore any awareness raised in the name of heart disease benefits both genders.

For more information from those in the know, please see:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/10/heart-disease-wome...
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/10/heart-attacks-wome...
http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/02/01/heart.women/index.html
http://www.sciencecodex.com/women_and_cardiovascular_health_conference_t...

Most Sincerely,
Rebecca Fortunato
http://rebeccasheart.wordpress.com/

February 4, 2010 - 10:02pm
Diane Porter

Pat,

This is a very timely and wonderful reminder both of Wear Red day and of its significance. I love the way that each year, that day turns more and more red as we look around us!

Many women also are still not aware that their symptoms of a heart attack may be completely different than those of a man. Here's a primer on cardiac symptoms for women:

http://www.empowher.com/providers/article/heart-attack-symptoms-and-wome...

And a video of a doctor sharing what medicine has learned about women and heart attacks in the last few years:

http://www.empowher.com/media/video/women-and-heart-attacks-what-have-do...

And here's just a bit more info on women's heart attack symptoms:

http://www.empowher.com/community/ask/do-women-experience-different-hear...

I hope I see everyone out in red on Friday!

February 3, 2010 - 10:20am
Pat Elliott HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon - Thanks for writing and sharing your issue. No statement was made that more women than men die of heart disease. The real issue is that too many women and men are dying from cardiac illness. There is a strong need to create greater awareness among women of cardiac health risks and need for treatment. Women's joint efforts to do so are simply that - women supporting each other for better health. Pat

February 1, 2010 - 5:32pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Re: "In the past, heart disease was viewed as a "man’s" disease and prevention and treatment measures for women were slighted."

Wrong.

Here are the facts on women's v. men's heart disease: "Women's Advocates Wrong About Why More Women Than Men Die of Heart Disease" at http://tinyurl.com/pkkajz

Male Matters
http://battlinbog.blog-city.com/

February 1, 2010 - 5:06pm
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