Why wear red on the first day of February?
Think of three important women in your life. According to American Heart Association (AHA) statistics, at least one of them may be living with a heart disease.
It sounds alarming. And it is. Heart disease is a serious medical condition and causes one in three deaths among women each year.
But it doesn’t mean women are doomed, and it doesn’t mean that one in three women is going to have a heart attack. In fact, heart disease is a term that covers many heart-related health conditions and they vary in terms of severity. The good news: many heart diseases can be prevented and/or treated. In fact, the AHA estimates that about 80% of cardiac events and strokes may be prevented with the right education and interventions.
That’s why the American Heart Association created National Wear Red Day, as part of its Go Red for Women initiative. February 1st is dedicated to bringing awareness to heart disease in women, and teaching us how to prevent it, recognize it and treat it.
What we all should know
Heart disease can include conditions like coronary artery disease (narrowed arteries), angina (chest pain or discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to the heart), arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) and more. Many heart diseases develop over time.
Symptoms of these conditions are often similar between men and women. But one cardiac event that women and men report experiencing different symptoms of is a heart attack.
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked. When blood can’t reach a part of your heart, that part of your heart begins to die.
Common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, shoulder or arms
- Feeling light-headed or weak
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
What women should know
Because many of the medical community’s early heart disease studies included only or mostly men, less is known today about how women experience heart disease and the symptoms they feel during heart attacks in particular. That is why the symptoms women experience are sometimes referred to as “atypical.”
While chest pain or discomfort is the most common symptom for both men and women, the sensation for women may feel more like chest pressure or tightness. Women are also more likely to experience shortness of breath, jaw pain and nausea and vomiting. These are symptoms women should take seriously, even though they’re not as widely known as heart attack symptoms.
What we all should do
If you or anyone near you is experiencing these symptoms, call 9–1–1 and get help as soon as possible. The quicker you can access medical help, the higher your chances of survival and recovery.
And before symptoms even start, we can all do things to prevent heart disease from happening in the first place, like:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy, varied diet low in salt, added sugars and trans fat
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding tobacco
This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.
Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 233 Spring Street, 8th Floor East, New York, NY 10013, (844) 366–2211, www.blinkhealth.com