Heart disease is the number one killer of women in Utah, though many still think it's a "man's disease". In 2005, heart disease and stroke killed seven women every day, or one woman every three hours. Nationwide, one of every 2.5 women dies from heart disease and stroke.
But the good news is that they can largely be prevented. For that reason, the Southeastern Utah District Health Department (SEUDHD) has joined The Heart Truth and Go Red, awareness campaign for women and the men who love them, to consider their heart health while taking action to fight women's heart disease.
To stimulate heart disease and stroke awareness and help women live heart healthy lifestyles, SEUDHD will be hosting a National Wear Red Day Luncheon on Feb. 21, in the College of Eastern Utah Leavitt Student Center from noon to 1:30 p.m., with guest speaker, Paula F. Julander, R.N. M.S.N., former state senator. Women and men alike are encouraged to 'Wear Red' in their own fashion.
"We can no longer ignore heart disease," said Dave Cunningham, health officer "Too often in Utah, women are so concerned with their families that they forget to take care of themselves. While awareness is important, it's time for women to take action now - to love and protect their hearts while maintaining healthier lifestyles. To that end, Go Red for Women encourages women to not only join the movement but also take simple, everyday steps to protect their hearts."
Being overweight or obese, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking can increase the risk for heart disease. Women also can have different risk factors and warning signs than men do:
Almost 10 percent of women in Utah are smokers putting them at increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Over a third of Utah women ages 50+ (43.7 percent) have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and 40.7 percent have been told they have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is more common in women taking oral contraceptives, especially in obese and older women, than in women not taking them.
The risk for heart disease and stroke among women with diabetes is two to four times higher than that for women without diabetes. Fifty percent of Utah women are overweight or obese.
Symptoms of heart attack for women are more likely to include pain or discomfort in other areas of the body besides the chest, such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Nausea is more common too.
In Utah, approximately 46 percent more women than men die of strokes each year.
When experiencing a stroke, women may be likely to report feeling sensations that aren't "traditional" stroke symptoms such as pain and changes in consciousness and disorientation
The SEUDHD urges women to join the fight for heart health
First, love your heart. Learn to connect with and love this vital organ by knowing your numbers: cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight. Ask your doctor questions about your personal risk for heart disease.
Second, go red in your own fashion. Going red in your own fashion is about finding your personal way to take part in the fight against heart disease in women. Whether it's visiting your health care provider, eating a healthier diet, increasing your exercise, purchasing products that support the cause, or wearing red and a red dress pin on National Wear Red Day - you can take action to love your heart. The Red Dress symbol is a reminder of the strength we have as women to collectively fight heart disease
Finally, participate in National Wear Red Day. This day is always on the first Friday in February. Millions of Americans will be wearing red to show their support for women and the fight against heart disease. But don't just stop there. The whole month of February is American Heart Month. Let your red shine all month, or even all year long.
For more information about Go Red for Women or to take a quick heart health checkup, please visit www.goredforwomen.org call 1-888-MY-HEART (1-888-694-3278) or visit www.hearttruth.gov. For information to get started with a heart-healthy lifestyle, or to see how Utahns are going red across the state visit www.hearthighway.org/gored.