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National campaign hosts virtual events on women's heart health

Provinces across the country are giving presentations on women's heart health in support of the country's Wear Red Canada campaign
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(stock photo)

The national Wear Red Canada campaign launches today, and Canadians are invited to help raise awareness about women’s heart health.

“This campaign that we do annually is really a cornerstone of our organization and has engaged thousands of volunteers and raised millions of dollars for heart disease and stroke in the past,” Pamela Fonseca, Heart and Stroke’s director of health policy and systems, said. “This year is going to be no different.”

Normally, the campaign canvasses door-to-door to spread awareness. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance and the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre are holding virtual events.

The events, which start this afternoon, focus on subjects such as physical fitness and nutrition, rehabilitation, treatment and general knowledge of women’s heart health.

From 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Nova Scotia Health is providing a presentation with the other Atlantic provinces called Mental Health: COVID Impact on Cardiovascular disease.

Canadians can also support the cause and spread awareness in other ways:

  • Wearing red on Feb. 13
  • Joining a 5K race from Feb. 13 to 28 which will be tracked virtually
  • Taking photos, sharing them on social media and using #HerHeartMatters
  • Sharing resources and information on women’s heart health with colleagues, family and friends

For women, signs of heart attacks and strokes often present much differently than in men. Moreover, 53 per cent of heart attack symptoms go unrecognized in women.

Oftentimes, women will experience a heart attack without experiencing chest pain. Fonseca told NEWS 95.'7s The Rick Howe Show it’s also common for women to describe the sensation of a heart attack as “pressure” while men describe it as “pain.”

A heart attack may present itself with signs such as chest discomfort, sweating, nausea, shortness of breath and light-headedness.

Smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, inactivity and depression are all risk factors of cardiovascular disease, and it’s sometimes more dangerous for women.

Some risk factors are also only experienced by women and possibly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in the future. These include gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature birth and premature menopause.

People can reduce their risk by staying active, maintaining a healthy diet, watching their weight, regularly seeing their doctor, quitting smoking, limiting stress and reducing alcohol intake.

In Canada, heart disease is the leading cause of hospitalization and premature death for women. Heart disease and stroke are also the number one causes of death in the world.

According to the Heart and Stroke’s 2018 Heart Report, every 20 minutes a woman in Canada dies from heart disease.

Chris Stoodley

About the Author: Chris Stoodley

Chris was born and raised in Halifax. After graduating from the journalism program at King's, he started as CityNews Halifax's weekend editor.
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