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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Red garb donned in ‘heartfelt’ support

Men and women across campus and the nation will join to raise awareness about the No. 1 killer of women for the third annual National Wear Red Day.

Many women don’t realize how deadly heart disease is, said Sarah Humphrey corporate relations manager for the American Heart Association.

“Heart disease kills more people than the next seven leading causes of death combined,” she said.

Senior Carissa Nowak will be one of the students wearing red today and the red dress pin, a symbol for women’s heart disease awareness. The pin is also nationwide symbolizing the message that “Heart Disease Doesn’t Care What You Wear — It’s the #1 Killer of Women.”

“I’m going to wear red to support AHA and raise awareness,” she said. “It’s a good way to raise people’s curiosity on campus and recruit people for the cause by wearing the pin.”

Nowak will also be leading a team in the Heart Walk, Feb. 12.

People need to be made aware of the how important knowledge about heart disease is, said student Heather Deyo, who is participating in National Wear Red Day for the first time this year.

“We’re just trying to get the word out to the community and get people to realize how serious heart disease is,” she said. “This is another way to volunteer and get awareness out and raise money.”

Many men and women are often mistaken and think breast cancer is the No. 1 killer of women, she said, but in reality heart disease is.

“We’re really trying to encourage women to know about heart disease and how to prevent it,” she said.

While the women most at risk for heart disease are not usually college age, heart disease still kills one out of every three women of all ages, Humphrey said.

For young women, heart disease is becoming more common as lifestyle-related factors that increase heart risk are becoming more common among girls, teenagers and young adults, according to the NHLBI.

But women can lower their heart disease risk by as much as 82 percent just by leading a healthy lifestyle.

There are many factors that can cause heart disease, Humphrey said. Although heredity cannot be prevented, other factors can.

“There are some things you can’t change like family history or age. But good habits need to begin very early on, even in childhood,” said Deputy Director for the NHLBI Barbara Alving, Ph.D. “The important thing regarding college students is they develop habits in college. They may be good or bad, but the good habits need to be maintained as they grow older.”

Education is key in preventing heart disease, said Sarah Petersen, president of Alpha Phi, a sorority which is active nationwide in donating money to cardiac care.

“It’s easily preventable; with healthier lifestyles people can really change what will happen to them in the future,” she said.

Women and men alike are encouraged to plan a healthy diet and lifestyle, she said. Regular exercise can also bring down one’s chances of developing heart disease. In addition, people should stop smoking and try to reduce the stress in their lives.

Other risk factors that contribute to the onset of heart disease include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity and diabetes.

Regular checkups are a must, and if their doctor does not offer to check their heart, the patient should request they do so. A common medical test for heart disease is an EKG which records the patient’s heartbeats, Humphrey said.

And most of all, people need to be educated on their own body and the symptoms of heart disease, she said.

“Often times, the symptoms for a heart attack in females is much different than in males,” Humphrey said. “Many times the symptoms will go unnoticed and the woman doesn’t even know she is having a heart attack.”

Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease. It develops over many years and affects the heart’s blood vessels, which can lead to a heart attack.

Other cardiovascular diseases include stroke, high blood pressure, and rheumatic heart disease.

Heart disease develops over time, and can start as early as the teenage years, and during mid-life, a woman’s risk for heart disease starts to rise dramatically, according to the NHLBI.

There is no “cure” for heart disease, not even surgery; it can only be managed. Bypass surgery and angioplasty can help restore blood and oxygen flow to the heart. But blood vessels remain damaged, which means women are more likely to have a heart attack.

Young people can make a difference by being the ones to encourage older family members to get checked for heart disease and look out for their health, Alving said.

“College students can really be the messengers for heart disease,” she said.

Editor’s Note: Information from the NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) and AHA (American Heart Association) Web sites were also used in research for this article.

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