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Go Red for Women

February 2, 2018

When supporters of the American Heart Association don their red shirts in honor of “Go Red for Women,” it’s not because heart disease chooses women over men; it’s the leading cause of death for men and women. Unfortunately for the fairer sex, the symptoms of a heart attack often present themselves differently, causing more untimely deaths for women. Almost two-thirds of women who die of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms, according the CDC, and sometimes women with heart disease mistake their symptoms for other health issues.

The most well-known symptom of heart disease is exercise-induced pain that gets better with rest. But the symptoms in women can be far different:

  • generalized fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the throat
  •  jaw pain
  •  back pain or arm pain

Actress Elizabeth Banks gives great insight into ignoring the warning signs of a heart attack in this humorous video.

Though setting aside the cheeseburger for a healthier, low-fat meal can benefit men and women, extra weight isn’t the only risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Other risk factors include:

  • diabetes
  • tobacco use
  • high LDL cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • family history of heart diseases
  • inactivity
  • alcohol consumption

Preventative measures are the same for both men and women: a healthy diet and exercise, avoid exposure to second-hand and first-hand smoke and don’t use drugs that are toxic to the heart.

Copyright © SIU School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois