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Go Red for Women

This issue features women who are different ages and demographics but have one thing in common. All have various forms of heart disease or stroke.

Heart disease is affecting our community at an alarming rate, especially our mothers, sisters and daughters. If every woman reading this magazine takes steps to learn about her risk factors, stays physically active, eats a hearthealthy diet and sees her health care provider, we will begin to see a positive impact in the disparities of heart disease and stroke. This is the message of the Go Red for Women movement from the American Heart Association.

Friday, February 7, has been designated “National Wear Red Day for Women.” Red is the American Heart Association’s color for women and heart disease.

“We need a bold color like red to draw attention to heart disease, which is a woman’s greatest health threat,” said Cindy Bouma, communications director for the American Heart Association in West Michigan. “The association is encouraging everyone to wear red — such as a red dress, shirt, hat or other item in support of all women who have been touched by heart disease or stroke.”

Other events such as the Go Red for Women Luncheon are scheduled in February. In Southwest Michigan, the event will be on February 7 at the Delta Marriott Conference Center. Tickets are available at Heart.org/KalamazooGoRed.


Cardiovascular diseases kill more women than all forms of cancer combined, but 80% of cardiac events in women may be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking.

Know the warning signs so you can get help right away, either for yourself or someone close to you. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, and no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help.


  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these signs, don’t wait! Call 911. Get to a hospital right away. If you or someone you’re with has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs, don’t wait longer than a few minutes (no more than five) before calling for help.

Knowing the common stroke warning signs and what to do in a stroke emergency may help you save a life or reduce disability. To remember the stroke warning signs, remember the acronym F.A.S.T.:

Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.”

Time to Call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

The faster stroke is treated, the more likely the patient is to recover.

As Go Red for Women looks to the future, we know that it’s no longer just about wearing red. It’s about all women making a commitment to stand together with Go Red for Women and take charge of their own heart health. LEARN MORE AT GOREDFORWOMEN.ORG. Post pictures of you going red to social media using the hashtag #GoRedKzoo.

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