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'Go Red for Women' raises awareness about heart health

The American Heart Association is marking 20 years of its Go Red for Women movement.
American Heart Association
American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is marking 20 years of its Go Red for Women movement.

The American Heart Association is asking everyone to wear red Friday as part of its “Go Red for Women” movement.

Communications director Kristy Smorol said cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women, and symptoms of a heart attack could present differently.

"Women are more likely to feel things like indigestion, heartburn, nausea, light headedness, cold sweats, neck, back, shoulder, jaw pain, all things that are really easy to brush off as something else," she said.

This is the 20th year of “Go Red for Women,” and the American Heart Association is marking its 100th year. But its mission is especially critical in the post-pandemic era.

"Research shows that COVID-19 can cause heart problems and also that heart problems can make COVID-19 worse," Smorol said.

The AHA is also encouraging everyone to learn how to do CPR. Smorol said men have a 23 percent higher chance of surviving cardiac arrest than women.

"Some of that is because people are afraid to do CPR on women,” she said. “Either they're afraid of allegations of inappropriate touching. They're afraid they'll hurt the women. They don't recognize that it is cardiac arrest because they don't assume that would happen for a woman."

Smorol said there are several small steps people can take to mark National Wear Red Day.

“Cardiovascular disease includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol,” she said. “These are all pieces of cardiovascular disease that you need to pay attention to. So, if it is simply just stopping somewhere to take your blood pressure today, that’s something. Know your numbers. Talk to your family about your family health history.”

And the AHA recommends focusing on things you can control in the fight against cardiovascular disease: eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco products, and getting high quality sleep.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.