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Women's heart health is why we "Go Red"

gored caucuspostMembers of the Illinois General Assembly showed their support of the American Heart Association’s "Go Red for Women" campaign in the Capitol today. Go Red for Women encourages women to know their risks and take action to protect their health.

Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year. The American Heart Association created Go Red for Women to empower women to take charge of their heart health.

An estimated 43 million women in the United States suffer from heart disease each year, and cardiovascular disease kills one American woman every minute. While 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease, only 20 percent identify it as their greatest health threat.

Women are still underrepresented in clinical trials pertaining to heart disease and are less likely to call 911 when they themselves are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack than when another person reports symptoms. The gap between the survival rates of men and women with heart disease continues to widen each year.

“It was disheartening, to say the least, to be reminded today of the fact that per the American Heart Association, most women are unaware that heart disease is their number one potential health threat and killer,” said Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). “As a proud black female, it is unsettling that we as black women are particularly oblivious to this issue and thus not empowered to take charge of our health.”

The Conference of Women Legislators rallied elected officials to join the movement in recent years. Started in 2004, the campaign encourages men and women to wear red lapel pins and clothes to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease.

Misunderstanding symptoms, such as shortness of breath, uncomfortable pressure in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes and discomfort in arms, neck or stomach, increases the difficulty of diagnosing heart disease.

Lifestyle changes like lowering cholesterol, reducing sodium, increasing rest and activity, can help prevent heart disease.

Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) passed a resolution today to broaden awareness in a specific population of women.

“South Asian people whose ethnic origins stem from the Indian Subcontinent are at 4 times greater a risk for heart disease than the general population. To put that into perspective, South Asians make up only 17% of the world population, but hold 60% of the world’s cardiovascular disease burden. Senate Resolution creates “Red Sari Day” on March 12 to raise awareness for South Asian Cardiovascular Disease Awareness in the State of Illinois.”

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