Heart disease kills one woman every minute in the U.S., making it the number one killer of women in the nation.
That’s why the American Heart Association is asking everyone to take part in National Wear Red Day Friday to raise awareness for the 43 million women affected by heart disease.
Karen Colbert, a spokeswoman with the American Heart Association, said heart disease isn’t gender specific.
“Heart disease, for years, has been labeled a ‘man’s disease,’” she said, “and it’s important for us to get the word out that women, starting as early as 20 years old, need to be aware and need to have that conversation with their doctors.”
Colbert said the disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.
Magee-Women’s Hospital in Oakland is “going red” by offering free heart screenings to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. UPMC staff are measuring blood pressure, body mass index, total cholesterol and blood glucose levels. People will also have a chance to “ask the expert” about how to better their health.
St. Margaret Hospital in Fox Chapel is also hosting a “Go Red for Women” table from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. full of free information booklets, heart healthy recipes and red dress pins. Free blood pressure screenings are also available.
Colbert said blood pressure and heart screenings can make a difference because the symptoms of heart disease often go unnoticed in women.
“Common symptoms are a pressure in the middle of the chest, shortness of breath and lightheadedness,” she said, “but in women, sometimes the symptoms are back pain, discomfort in one or both arms, neck, jaw, stomach pain.”
Colbert said exercise is the best way to prevent the disease.
“It doesn’t have to be number one,” she said. “We don’t want to be the number one killer. Heart disease can be prevented if you pay attention to your lifestyle or your risks.”