Seeing Red

February features red-letter day for women

The news for women isn’t good: Every year heart disease claims the lives of close to half a million women in the U.S. In fact, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women.

The American Heart Association claims February as the month to make an extra effort to get the news out about the danger for women. Many local companies and businesses participate in a Go Red for Women Day to bring attention to the danger women face for heart attack and for stroke, which is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability.

While some of the warning signs for heart attack are well-known, the signs for women can be different from those for men. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, and no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help.

Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

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.

Blount Memorial Hospital combined their Go Red Day with not only highlighting the warning signs, but with tips and ideas for a healthier lifestyle. The Go Red Day exhibits in the lobby of the hospital featured healthy snacks, a blood pressure station and information booths about heart disease and the ways to help have a healthy heart.

United Community Bank also participated in Go Red Day, with employees putting on a little red to bring awareness not only to their co-workers, but to bank customers.

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