Friday, February 4, 2011
SAN DIEGO “National Wear Red Day” is a novel approach at saving lives.
The American Heart Association (AHA) encouraged women to wear red on Friday, February 4th to raise awareness that heart disease is the number one killer of American women over age 20.
Data from the AHA shows cardiovascular disease kills more women than the next four causes of death combined, including all types of cancer.
That means about 3,400 women in San Diego die each year from heart disease and stroke.
UCSD cardiologist Riki Green is an electrophysiologist. That means, she specializes in heart rhythms and implantable heart devices, like pacemakers.
Green said heart disease symptoms in women can be vague and go unnoticed by both female patients and their doctors.
“Women need to be aware they get heart disease just like men do. They need to understand the symptoms can be more subtle. But, it’s important as physicians that we increase our awareness of the difference in diagnosing women and men,” explained Green.
Recent data finds the discrepancy, often called a gender-gap, cost women their lives. Green uses this example.
“Research finds that men are twice as likely to get implantable defibrillators than women with the same condition. But, defibrillators work better in women than in men. So why aren’t women getting these life-saving devices in the same numbers as men?”
The discrepancy is worse for women of color. AHA statistics found Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than non-Hispanic women. African-American women have higher death rates from cardiovascular disease than white females.
But, there is some good news. Women can change those statistics. Not so much by wearing red, but rather by learning the signs of heart disease and by making lifestyle changes that include a healthier diet and exercise.
Here you can check your heart disease risk factors.
February is national heart-health month. The local chapter of the American Heart Associations is part of the “Go Red” campaign. To bring more awareness, AHA has adorned the following San Diego landmarks in red lights:
U.S. Grant Hotel
Westfield Horton Plaza
The Marketplace at Westfield UTC
Hotel del Coronado
UCSD Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center