National Wear Red Day raises awareness for women’s heart health

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It’s National Wear Red Day Friday, and American Heart Association is raising awareness about heart health in women.

Many women don’t know the signs themselves. That’s why campaign’s such as AHA’s, “Go Red for Women,” are so important. The more people who know the signs and symptoms, the more we can save.

“When I was rushed to the hospital, they thought I was having an anxiety attack,” heart attack survivor Wakisha Stewart said.

Stewart knew it was bigger than that, so she spoke up.

“If it weren’t for the fact that I knew myself — I was very well aware of what my normal is — and I have a medical background as a nurse, I might not even be here today,” Stewart said.

Stewart was having a heart attack. She was 31 years old at the time, but her story isn’t unique.

“A lot of the women that I have met in my travels have been turned away and told that it was anxiety or maybe angina. And they said, ‘No, something’s wrong’, and they continue to push and pursue health care and different doctors in second opinion. So be your own health advocate. The doctors aren’t always right, unfortunately,” said Kelly Glewa, the executive director for Southwest Florida American Heart Association’s. “Unfortunately, there have been events that way where women have been turned away, and then, you know, ultimately didn’t make it.”

A 2018 study found, depending on the type of heart attack, women get misdiagnosed 41% to 59% of the time.

Women are more likely to die from heart attacks as well.

That’s why Glewa says education is key.

“The American Heart Association is working to educate those clinicians to dive deeper,” Glewa said. “If somebody is experiencing those symptoms, don’t just write it off as anxiety.”

It isn’t only doctors who need to listen, learn and speak up.

“Women 65 and older are pretty educated about heart disease and their number one health threat,” Glewa said. “But women 65 and younger, especially women of color, are not aware.”

“Heart attacks aren’t just things that happen to you know, our grandmothers and grandfathers. They’re happening to young women. Don’t ever just let certain things go. Make sure you’re getting checked out. Always,” Stewart said. “Almost 10 years later, I am just still astounded by the fact that cardiovascular disease and that type of incident is actually on the rise. And cardiovascular disease is actually the number one killer of new moms.”

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