February is American Heart Month and today, the first Friday of the month, is National Wear Red Day, promoted annually by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), HHS Office on Women’s Health, American Heart Association, and many other groups to raise awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer of women and is largely preventable.
It’s a common misconception that breast cancer is the number 1 killer of women; it kills 1 in 31. But in the US, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke every year. That’s approximately one woman every minute. More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined, yet only 1 in 5 women believe that heart disease is their greatest health threat. More women than men are struck by heart disease, and both young and old are affected. But 80% of “cardiac events” can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.
As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But it’s important to note that women are more likely to experience other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Educate yourself. Learn the symptoms of heart attack and stroke and what you can do to reduce your risk. And today, wear something red. For women.