Friday, February 7th is the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day, a day to raise awareness about Heart Disease. Heart Disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. Heart Disease claims more lives of women than all cancers combined! This includes one in three deaths being from heart disease and one woman dying of heart disease each minute. If this doesn’t shock you and make you a little uncomfortable, it should.

Heart Disease is not something that you should write off and say “not me”. Although Heart Disease is common in both men and women, the focus of the “Go Red” campaign is to raise awareness of Heart Disease in women. Unlike in men, the symptoms of heart disease/heart attack can be less obvious in women. For example in men, when they are having a heart attack they may feel intense pain in their chest and down their arm, whereas in women, they may feel as though they have a stomach ache and a pain in between the shoulder blades. These vague symptoms are often easy to write off as “something else”, until it’s too late.

There is a story on the “Go Red For Women” website about a woman named Cheryl Holmes. “Cheryl thought pregnancy was the reason for her extreme sweating and difficulties breathing. Even Cheryl’s doctor was convinced pregnancy was the source of her symptoms. When they didn’t subside after the birth of her child, she discovered these symptoms were a sign of heart disease.” Sadly, stories like Cheryl’s are all too common.

Unlike in the movies, a woman doesn’t need to grab her chest and fall to the ground to have a heart attack. Symptoms that pertain specifically to women include uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, sudden nausea, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It can last more than a few minutes, or go away and come back. Symptoms may include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. One may have shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Other signs might be breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. If you or a loved one have any of these signs, Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away. When it goes to your health, don’t wait, go!

You may be wondering how wearing red can help you or a beloved woman in your life not to get heart disease. Technically it can’t, but it can help raise awareness and be a reminder to us all that there are some things we can do to prevent heart disease. Prevention includes all the things most of us know we should do but maybe don’t make a priority such as eating healthy, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, and of course knowing about your family history and keeping communication with your doctor about your personal risks and ways you can improve.

At The Wellness Center, we are working not only to raise awareness but also raise funds for the American Heart Association all week long from Sunday, February 9-Saturday February 15th. Participants are encouraged to wear red to classes and make a donation to the American Heart Association if they so choose.  Every donation will also offer an entry into our raffle for great “Go Red®” prizes; bags, tumblers, water bottles and more. All the money raised at this event will go to the American Heart Association, for more information on this you can call 334-5566. The Wellness Center also offers monthly CPR/AED training for those looking to learn how they can help save a life or help in the fight against heart disease. North Country Hospital is a partner in the American Heart Association’s Go Red  For Women® Campaign, so don’t be surprised if you see employees sporting their “Go Red For Women” pins and, of course, many of us will be wearing red this Friday. For any questions on the “Go Red For Women®” Campaign check out their website at Help us to raise awareness by learning about heart disease; it could save your life, your mother’s, your sister’s, and more.  We can’t win the battle in one day, but we can show our support this Friday by wearing red.

Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center