GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Friday is National Wear Red Day, raising awareness for women’s heart health.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. Yet local health experts say it is preventable, so they have a message for women across the East on this national day of awareness.
Cardiologist Dr. Noel Peterson says there are many risk factors, and stress is a big one.
“Women tend to be the caregivers for their family and we take care of everybody and not ourselves. So if we’re not strong and healthy, we’re not going to be able to take care of the rest of our families,” Dr. Peterson said.
Heart disease is a big issue in the East too. Dr. Peterson says it’s common in this area because there are high rates of many risk factors, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Other risk factors include family history, smoking, lack of physical activity, and for women, having more than one alcoholic drink a day.
Doctors say there are big differences for men and women. Women’s symptoms are much more subtle.
Common symptoms for heart disease in women include pain in the neck or upper back, pain in one arm, and unusual fatigue.
Dr. Peterson says many women overlook symptoms or they get misdiagnosed with acid reflux or anxiety.
“They’ll have symptoms and say ‘oh well I just thought I had the flu so I thought it would get better in a few days,’ or ‘I just thought it was indigestion,’ or ‘yeah I had this funny feeling, I just didn’t feel right, but I figured I would go to sleep.’ Sometimes people go to sleep and don’t wake up from it. So if you’re having any unusual symptoms, it’s always better to go and be evaluated and talk to your doctor,” Dr. Peterson said.
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases and stroke kill 1 in 3 women each year.
Spreading awareness Friday is just as simple as wearing red. People can also find out how to support research by clicking here.