Today, Feb. 7, is National Wear Red Day, a day when people across the nation come together to wear the symbolic color to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease to help save lives. To help save lives it’s also important to get the facts straight.

Heidi Heise

Here are five important facts about heart disease in women from the American Heart Association:

  1. It’s the No. 1 killer of women. Heart disease strikes more women than men and kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.
  2. You can be at risk without symptoms. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.
  3. It affects women of all ages. Overeating, smoking and living a sedentary lifestyle can increase heart disease risk in the young and cause artery-clogging plaque to accumulate later in life. Congenital heart conditions can also impact heart health.
  4. Heart disease also affects thin people. You can be thin and still have high cholesterol, which increases your risk for heart disease.
  5. Making healthy choices and knowing the signs can help. Because of healthy choices and knowing the signs, more than 670,000 of women have been saved from heart disease.

The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, or earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease. And while you’re at it, be sure to keep an eye on your blood pressure at your next check-up.

Heidi Heise is a family medicine nurse practitioner at Ascension Medical Group at Westwood, Wausau.