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Prepare to "See Red" in MN Friday

February 4, 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Women from across the state are encouraged to wear red Friday as part of the American Heart Association's annual "Go Red" observance. The idea is to raise public awareness that heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States. More than 450,000 lives are lost to the disease each year - that's one woman every minute.

Mary Gruber, an R.N., says many women never expect to have a heart attack, don't recognize the symptoms (which are often different than men's) and don't take time to get medical attention. She says it's important for women to get the tests they need.

"We have to advocate for ourselves with our health care providers. Starting at age 20 we should know what our cholesterol levels are. As we approach the age of 40, if we haven't had a blood sugar done, we should - and we should know what that is."

Gruber says while genetics are among the common risk factors, any woman can take steps to lower her heart-attack risk, including reducing obesity, not smoking and knowing her numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and body mass index.

"We want them to know their numbers, know what their risk is and tell somebody else - especially other women - that heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in this country, so the women they care about in their life will know this, too."

In Minnesota, many local businesses and organizations (including Jiffy Lube, Macy's, Mall of America, Nicollet Mall and Kellogg Boulevard) will host "Go Red" activities on Feb. 5 or during the month of February.

More information on heart disease and women is available at www.GoRedForWomen.org.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MN