The red dress campaign and heart disease

The Go Red For Women is a campaign by the American Heart Association to raise awareness about heart disease in women.

To support this campaign, on this day every year women wear red dresses or an item of red color clothing.

How did this campaign begin?

Cardiovascular disease, encompassing heart attacks and stroke is a leading cause of morbidity in women all over the world.

Data shows that women are not well represented in clinical research and experience delays in medical care because they do not pay attention to their symptoms. In addition, women with cardiovascular disease receive suboptimal care.

As caregivers, women take care of family needs while pushing back their own health needs. So, women prioritize less about their own health matters in their roles taking care of others.

Women with heart disease have atypical presentations. In a woman having a heart attack, the chest pain may be a mild tightness or pressure, instead of the severe crushing type of chest pain that presents in men having a heart attack.

Women with heart disease or heart attacks may present with shoulder, neck, arm pain, upper back or abdominal pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, sweating or fatigue.

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The campaign raises awareness both for women and healthcare providers to be aware of heart disease in women as a possible cause of symptoms that cannot be explained.

The campaign also raises awareness for women to pay attention to cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high cholesterol, stress and depression, and lack of exercise.

The campaign advocates for better cardiovascular research and better care for women.

Written by Dr. N. Onuoha.

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