08:44am Sunday 20 October 2019

Going Red For Women and Heart Disease Awareness

Jennifer Lawton, MD, Washington University cardiac surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, says such a lack of awareness can be deadly, “Women are much more likely to die of heart disease than they are of breast cancer or all cancers combined.”

February is National Heart Month, and Barnes-Jewish Hospital joined the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign. On the pedestrian bridges crossing Forest Park Parkway and Barnes-Jewish Plaza, passers-by will see new signs in the windows saying that Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University have gone “red for women.”

(Find out more about women and heart disease in this podcast with Dr. Jennifer Lawton here.)

Dr. Lawton says it’s important to know heart attacks in women actually feel different than they do in men. “Oftentimes women do not present with the same symptoms that men do and therefore they are not diagnosed with heart disease early on,” says Dr. Lawton. “Women typically don’t have the same symptoms that we think of as a classic heart attack – those would be crushing chest pain, shortness of breath – and women often present with symptoms such as heartburn, fatigue or nausea and therefore they don’t think they’re having a heart attack.”

The following five key steps can help women reduce their risk of heart attack, even if they’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease:

1.    Stop smoking

2.    Lower high blood pressure

3.    Lower cholesterol

4.    Aim for a healthy weight

5.    Be physically active each day

“In women it’s important to stress risk factors and lifestyle modification,” says Dr. Lawton. “We don’t exactly know why more women die from heart attacks, so we need to focus on prevention of the disease and focus on the risk factors. Also, we need to urge women to ask questions when they go to their doctors about heart disease and their symptoms.”

For more information about heart disease, call toll free at 314-TOP-DOCS (314-867-3627).

Jason Merrill


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