Media Contact: Keith.O’Connor@baystatehealth.org, 413-794-7656
SPRINGFIELD – Friday, Feb. 7, is designated as National Wear Red Day for Women – sponsored by the American Heart Association – when women nationwide wear red and bring attention to the fight against heart disease in women.
According to figures from the American Heart Association, more women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer. Heart disease takes the life of 1 in 3 women each year, meaning women are dying at the rate of one per minute. Despite these facts, only 1 in 5 women believes heart disease is her greatest health threat and not everyone knows what symptoms to be aware of.
“Education is key to knowing the symptoms,” said Dr. Amir Lotfi, a cardiologist in the Baystate Heart and Vascular Program. “When you realize that you are having symptoms that you are unfamiliar with, whether jaw pain or shoulder or arm discomfort, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the left side and can occur on the right, it’s better to be on the safe side and get to an emergency room immediately, because time is muscle,” he added.
The phrase “time is muscle” refers to the fact that once a heart attack strikes, the
person immediately begins to lose precious heart muscle. That muscle can continue to
suffer damage until the person receives life-saving angioplasty to open the blocked vessel and restore blood flow to the heart.
Recognized nationally for outcomes in heart attack care, including providing lifesaving angioplasty up to 25 minutes sooner than the national standard, Baystate Medical Center is in the top 10% of hospitals nationwide in this critical statistic.
Classic heart attack symptoms, whether for women or men, can include chest pain or discomfort, unusual upper body discomfort, shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, unusual or unexplained fatigue, lightheadedness or sudden dizziness, and nausea.
“The most common symptom of a heart attack continues to be chest pain where you hear many people say it feels like an elephant is sitting on their chest. But not all women experience chest pain and they need to be aware of the more subtle symptoms they might be unfamiliar with,” said Dr. Lotfi.
In addition to recognizing when they are having a heart attack, women need to know their risk factors for heart disease, including smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high stress, being overweight, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, and diabetes, noted the Baystate Medical Center cardiologist.
But, more than just knowing their risk factors, women need to do something about them. One of the best things you can do is to sign up in a cardiac rehabilitation program like those offered at Baystate Medical Center. While there, you will participate in supervised exercise in the hospital’s cardiac gym and work toward lowering cholesterol and blood pressure numbers if they are high.
To learn more about Baystate Medical Center’s life-saving cardiac capabilities, visit baystatehealth.org/bhvp.