Heart disease biggest killer of women over 20

Paula Wolfson, wtop.com

WASHINGTON — It’s the only muscle in the human body that is never at rest. And yet, American women know very little about their hearts.

Statistics show heart disease is the biggest killer of women over 20, and the real tragedy is many of the deaths are preventable.

Survivors and supporters are wearing red on the first Friday in February to call attention to the disease. Like the pink ribbons worn for breast cancer, red dresses have become symbols of the fight against heart disease.

“Red for the heart,” said Deanna Linz, a development director with the American Heart Association of Greater Washington.

Linz said the goal of the “Go Red for Women” campaign, which began in 2004, has always been to call attention to the threat heart disease poses to women.

“You would be surprised the people out there who really don’t recognize their own personal signs and symptoms of heart disease.”

Linz said she was caught by surprise two years ago when she had a heart attack shortly after the birth of her first child.

She says she will be wearing red on behalf of her parents, who both died of heart problems at a relatively young age.

“I am also wearing red for my son, wearing red for my husband and I am wearing red for all the survivors that are out there making a difference every single day.”

Eileen Williams of Manassas, Va. also is a part of that “sisterhood” of survivors. She said the sisterhood is on a mission to spread the word about women and heart disease, 365 days a year.

Williams said other women listen to the ladies in red.

“We have lots of credibility … and some of us have scars to prove it.”

Here are some of the events this month in the D.C. area:

  • “Girls with Guitars and a Piano Man” concert — Feb. 3 at the Fillmore in Silver Spring;
  • “Red Hot Night and Go Red Casting Call” — Feb. 10 in Crystal City;
  • “Love Your Heart Expo” — Feb. 11 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Montgomery Mall, sponsored by Washington Adventist Hospital, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Adventist Heath Care and WTOP. Includes free health screenings.
  • “The D.C. Heart Ball” — Feb. 25 at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)