SURVIVOR—Heart disease survivor Sandra Wells, center, with husband, Bradley Wells, and mother, Norha Vargas. (Photos by J.L. Martello)

One out of every three deaths among women in the U.S. each year is attributed to cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke, making it the No. 1 killer of women in this country and causing more deaths than all forms of cancer combined.

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement has made a difference in women’s lives by increasing awareness and raising funds for heart and stroke research over the past decade. More than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved, but the fight is far from over because only one-in-five women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.

Here are the hard facts…

•An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.

•90-percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

• Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen.

•Women comprise only 24 percent of participants in all heart-related studies.

•Symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and are often silent, hidden and misunderstood.

Heart disease in women requires more attention, more research and swifter action. The Go Red for Women Luncheon & Conference educates and connects hundreds of women locally, and offers tools to help women make life saving choices—choices to protect their health and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.

The annual Pittsburgh Go Red For Women Luncheon and Conference was held at the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh Hotel. The co-Chairs were Judy Wagner, VP, CFO, Bayer Healthcare, and Julie Coletti, VP, General Counsel, KaVo Kerr Group, Danaher, and the keynote speaker was Andrea Metcalf, a national healthy lifestyle expert/trainer

The Go Red For Women Luncheon and Conference offered a free health fair from 9 a.m. – noon.  Health Experts from throughout the region conducted a variety of insightful and informative breakout sessions followed by a heart healthy lunch and presentation.

Research tells us, women who Go Red are more likely to make healthy changes in their lives. Eighty percent of cardiac events in women may be prevented by simply making better choices for their hearts, involving diet, exercise, and abstinence from smoking. Many women also do not recognize the warning signs or symptoms of heart disease, which may be more subtle than those exhibited by men.

Heart attack signs in women

•Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

•Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

•Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness should not be ignored.

Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom for both women and men.  Nevertheless, women are more likely to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.



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