February 1 is Wear Red Day
, 2014

February 1 is Wear Red Day

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease is the number one killer of women age 20 and over, killing approximately one woman every minute.

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To increase awareness and education of women’s heart disease, Rappahannock General Hospital (RGH) urges the community to join them in supporting the AHA’s National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 1.

“Heart attack symptoms can be very different for women than men,” said RGH staff development coordinator Cathy Myers, RN. “It’s a common misconception that all heart attacks play out like on television, with sudden crushing chest pains. Because women sometimes experience more subtle symptoms, they can be overlooked, resulting in these high death rates.”

Research by the National Institutes of Health indicates that women often experience new or different physical symptoms as long as a month or more before experiencing heart attacks, said public relations and marketing coordinator Joanna Marchetti.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, she said. However, women are more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, unusual fatigue, indigestion, anxiety, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Last year, RGH encountered just over 700 cardiac related cases, exactly half of which were female patients.

“Traditionally, people have perceived heart disease as a problem that affects mostly males, therefore women aren’t as knowledgeable of the factors that could be putting them at risk,” said Myers.

A family history of heart disease does increase risk of developing the disease, but many women without a family history still have heart attacks or problems. Other contributing factors can include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, poor dietary patterns, smoking, being overweight and physical inactivity.

According to the AHA, 80% of cardiac events in women could be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking. RGH is addressing the needs of the community by increasing access to local cardiology services through the recently established clinical affiliation with Bon Secours Virginia Health System.

“Knowing the facts can help you prevent and fight heart disease, giving you the potential to save your own life, or the life of a loved one,” said Myers.

Visit goredforwomen.org to learn more about women’s heart disease.

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