MEDFORD, Ore. -- It's National Wear Red Day! It's day where community members, organizations, and health professionals nationwide are dawning red to raise awareness about heart disease.
Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. and the number one killer of women. The American Heart Association says nearly one in three women die each year from the disease. While National Wear Red Day is specially geared toward showing the impact heart disease has on women, it also falls at the beginning of American Heart Month, which is about supporting heart health for the entire month of February.
Dr. James Cook with Providence Medford Medical Center's cardiology department says this push for awareness is an important reminder to always be thinking about your heart health.
“First thing is to understand where you are as far as blood pressure, what your cholesterol is like, whether or not you have diabetes, your body weight and whether or not you’re active physically," said Dr. Cook. "Those are the types things that contribute to having a poor cardiac prognosis long-term.”
Dr. Cook says sometimes symptoms of heart disease can be subtle and that you should look for changes in how you perform daily activities.
"The most important thing to realize is if there's a difference from your 'normal' -- what you're usually doing and now there's a change. Change may be that now [you] can't climb a flight of stairs whereas before it was no problem, or [you're] tired when you change your bed linens, or go for a walk. Those are changes you want to investigate and the best place to start is with your primary care provider."
NewsWatch 12 also asked Dr. Cook about other heart health tips that might be helpful. Dr. Cook says it's important for women to know that their symptoms of a heart attack could be different than what is typically seen in men.
"The traditional symptoms of a heart attack are usually chest discomfort...and there's usually some shortness of breath. There may be sweating, nausea," said Dr. Cook. "Ladies may have variations of that. They may not have the chest discomfort. They may have only neck or jaw discomfort. Symptoms are typically with activity so you would be active physically and get the discomforts in your chest.”
According to the American Heart Association, 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases while 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke.