Employees of Sandhills Regional Medical Center wore red tops with blue jeans on Friday to bring attention to the observance. In addition, volunteers distributed goody bags to visitors that included literature on heart health, a heart-shaped cookie, and treats.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to statistics from the AHA, a coronary event strikes every 25 seconds in America. And, while heart disease is often considered to be a health problem that’s more prevalent among men, the truth of the matter is that more women die of heart disease each year than men — making it the number one killer among women — and claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. According to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, one woman dies from heart disease almost every minute in the U.S.
One of the challenges with heart disease — specifically heart attacks in women — is that the symptoms can be different to those experienced by men. Because the symptoms don’t always present themselves as classic signs of a heart attack, women are often prone to delay seeking emergency treatment and, as a result, risk great damage to their hearts.
“Every second counts with a heart attack and the longer you wait to seek treatment, the worse the outcome is likely to be,” said Dr. Debbie Wright-Thomasson of Hamlet Cardiology. “That’s why it’s so important for women to understand the warning signs of a heart attack and how the symptoms may differ from the classic symptoms that men tend to experience.”
According to research conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH), women very often experience physical symptoms well before they have a heart attack. Of the 515 women in the NIH study, 95 percent said they experienced new or different symptoms a month or more before the onset of their heart attack. The most commonly reported symptoms included unusual fatigue (70 percent), sleep disturbance (48 percent) and shortness of breath (42 percent).
Studies have shown that women are more likely than men to have symptoms unrelated to chest pain during a heart attack, such as: Neck, shoulder, jaw, upper back and arm or abdominal discomfort amongst others.
“Given that women’s heart attack symptoms are often more subtle than men’s, it’s vitally important that women educate themselves on the warning signs that may signal the onset of a heart attack,” said Wright-Thomasson said. “The sooner symptoms are recognized and action is taken, the higher the likelihood of a positive outcome.”