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‘Go red’ for women in your life

By January 25, 2011

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Heart disease is now the number one killer of women, according to the American Heart Association. To help raise awareness of this important issue, several organizations in El Dorado County will actively participate in National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 4, and encourage members of the public and other agencies to do the same.

“Wearing red on Feb. 4 is one small, symbolic way for our communities to say that we care about the health of the women who live here,” said Marty Hackett, executive director of the El Dorado County Emergency Services Authority.

Local agencies promoting National Wear Red Day this year include the Emergency Services Authority, Fire Districts, the El Dorado County Health Services Department and Marshall Medical Center.  National Wear Red Day is sponsored by the AHA.

It is estimated that one in four American women now die from coronary heart disease each year. More than 600 women died from heart disease in El Dorado County in 2009.  Yet awareness is lacking, said Scott Yoder, MD, a cardiologist with Marshall Cardiology in Placerville and Cameron Park.

“Chronic heart disease is often under diagnosed in women,” Yoder explained. “It’s important to recognize risk factors for coronary disease, or blockages in the heart arteries.  These factors include diabetes, family history, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”

Yoder encourages women (and those who care about them) to maintain a healthy suspicion for coronary heart disease signs, including acute chest pain or shortness of breath, overall decreased energy, and any new or worsening pain or discomfort with activity.

“Be your own advocate, and if you have concerns about heart disease, bring it to the attention of your physicians,” Yoder suggested. “I can’t over-emphasize the importance of prevention through diet and exercise. Also, with early detection and treatment, women with heart disease do extremely well.”

Awareness of the overall statistics of women and heart disease are startling, and that’s where improvements can start, he added.

Keys to preventing heart disease include the following:

  • Be physically active. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most and preferably all days of the week.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan — one that is low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and moderate in total fat. Include lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t smoke, and limit alcohol to only one drink per day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

According to Dr. Yoder, acute heart problems such as heart attack often do not present the same classic symptoms we often think about. “If you aren’t feeling well, seek attention,” he said.

Still, it’s a good idea to keep these heart attack warning signs in mind:

  • Chest discomfort (usually in the center of the chest) that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, which may occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Or other symptoms, such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.

Anyone who has these or similar symptoms of heart attack should call 911 right away.  According to Chief Greg Schwab from the Georgetown Fire Protection District and chair of the Emergency Services Authority, the ESA is currently in the process of bringing new technology to the West Slope of El Dorado County that will enhance communication between ambulances and Marshall Hospital when a person is having heart problems.

“This new technology will send real time EKGs from the ambulances to the hospital, so that the hospital will have information before the patient even arrives in the emergency room,” said Chief Schwab.

For more information about the National Wear Red Day campaign or tips to a healthy heart visit the AHA’s website at

Special to Village Life


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