Sunday, February 9, 2014

Heart Disease in Pennsylvania: A Real Lady Killer

HARRISBURG, Pa. - When someone mentions a heart attack, the vision that first comes to mind is often of a man grasping at his chest.

But heart disease actually takes the lives of more women than men.

To raise awareness of the prevalence, Dr. Rawa Sarji, a cardiologist at Sanford Health, says it's time to Go Red for Women.

"By wearing red, living a healthy lifestyle and speaking red," she says. "By spreading the message that heart disease is killing our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends."

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease and stroke account for 32 percent of all female deaths in Pennsylvania, and on average, nearly 57 women die from heart disease and stroke in Pennsylvania each day.

This coming Friday is the American Heart Association's annual Wear Red Day, when people are asked to don some red clothing to show support for women's heart health.

It's also true that women are less likely to call 911 if they're experiencing heart attack symptoms, which Sarji says may include the classic chest pain that radiates down the left arm.

"Which can be associated with sweating, shortness of breath, nausea," she says. "In women, they can also present similarly. They can also present with jaw pain, dizziness.

"So, it's very important for women to be very cognizant and, if they are having symptoms, to seek immediate medical attention."

Sarji also notes that the steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease have been well publicized - including quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for nearly one-third of all deaths in the United States.

Tom Joseph

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