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North Dakotans 'Go Red for Women' for American Heart Month

Women should know and understand their blood pressure to prevent their risk of heart diseases and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. (Tunstall/Flickr)
Women should know and understand their blood pressure to prevent their risk of heart diseases and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. (Tunstall/Flickr)
February 2, 2018

FARGO, N.D. – Heart diseases and stroke claim one woman's life every 80 seconds. Friday, North Dakotans are encouraged to wear red for women.

February is American Heart Month, and this year the focus is on women's heart health. Even though cardiovascular diseases are the number one killers of women, it's still often associated with men.

Chrissy Meyer, communications director with the American Heart Association in North Dakota, says in 2004, the AHA discovered that while one in three women dies of cardiovascular disease, only one in five knew it was the number one killer.

She says even the symptoms for women often are subtler than they are for men.

"When a woman is having a heart attack, she may not experience that classic symptom of crushing chest pain or that radiating left-arm pain that has been promoted so often as symptoms of a heart attack,” says Meyer. “For a woman, that might be something like incredibly severe indigestion, upper back pain, jaw pain, nausea."

Meyer notes these symptoms are fairly typical for women, making them harder to detect. On Feb. 15, the AHA is holding the Go Red for Women luncheon and fundraiser in Fargo.

Although heart diseases and stroke kill many Americans, Meyer says 80 percent of cardiovascular disease may be prevented through lifestyle changes. First, it's important for women to know their family history to understand some of the risk factors that can't be changed.

After that, Meyer says women need to know and understand five numbers.

"Their total cholesterol, their HDL cholesterol, their blood pressure, their blood sugar, and their body mass index,” she says. “By knowing those five numbers and starting a conversation with their healthcare provider, they can take control of their health and prevent their risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke."

Getting more active is a way women – and men – can help their hearts, too. Less than 20 percent of women meet the Federal Physical Activity Guidelines, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information on heart health, women can go to goredforwomen.org.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND