We’re continuing National Heart Month by doing our part to raise awareness about heart disease in women. This is the 15th year of National Wear Red Day® that was started by the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to increase attention to the fact that heart disease is the #1 killer of women.
While awareness about heart disease has increased among women since the holiday was created, many women still don’t know they’re at risk for heart disease. Here are a few facts that could save you or a loved one’s life:
Different Women Have Different Risks
Forty-four million U.S. women are affected by cardiovascular diseases, but some are at greater risk than others. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Hispanic women, but only one in three Hispanic women is aware of that fact. On average, Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics. In addition, heart disease is the leading cause of death for African-American women, but only 36 percent know that heart disease is a great risk for them. Also, despite what most people think, heart disease can affect women of any age.
Men and Women Experience Heart Attacks Differently
Most movies portray people grabbing their chest when they’re having a heart attack. However, not all heart attacks are that obvious. Here are a few signs to look for:
1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and returns quickly
2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
Stressing Less Can Reduce Your Risk
Many women don’t realize how big of an impact stress can have on their health. It’s among the main factors in your heart health alongside diet, exercise and sleep. We recommend consulting with your doctor to know your risk for heart disease—and to know what kind of lifestyle changes could be right for you.
This National Heart Month, we hope you’ll share these facts with someone you know to help save lives. And we hope you’ll go red with us and consider making a blood donation at your local Carter BloodCare donation center or blood drive to help us save lives.