Updated 02/01/2013 07:04 PM
Going red for women
Communities across the nation turned red for good cause on Friday. It was the 10th annual Wear Red Day to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease. In addition to wearing the color, many events were held to draw attention to the campaign. Our Melissa Kakareka tells us more about the message behind the color.
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VESTAL, N.Y. -- When Gigi Puglisi started feeling sick, she never thought that her symptoms could be a sign of heart disease. But that's exactly what it was.
"I just felt really tired. I thought I was having some asthma problems and a pinched nerve and it progressed to jaw pain," said heart disease survivor Gigi Puglisi.
Gigi had triple bypass surgery.
She was one of many people across the nation wearing red on Friday to help raise awareness about heart disease.
Many women may not think that they have heart disease, but it is the number one killer of women.
"We need to change the perception. We need to educate physicians, and patients, women, that heart disease is their number one killer," said UHS Cardiologist Hisham Kashou.
Instead of the typical chest pain that men experience, women with heart disease often experience symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, or pain in the back or jaw.
"Women don't generally present with the same symptoms that men do, so a lot of times we dismiss that and we don't really do anything about it," said Southern Tier American Heart Association Director Gina Chapman.
But health experts say there are things that women can do to prevent heart disease and recognize the warning signs. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising, and eating properly are key. Women should also have knowledge of their risk factors and cardiovascular wellness.
"Diabetes has to be controlled, as well as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. So go to your doctor and make sure he gets a lipid profile," said Kashou.
Knowledge which could help save more women's lives in the future.
"When I first found out, my brother in law, he lives out of town and I called him, and he said to me, 'you won the lottery, they found out you have a problem before you just drop dead.' So I remember that. I remembered that going into the hospital, and I remember that when I talk to people, that I am one of the lucky ones." said Puglisi.
The American Heart Association says that over the ten years they've been running the Go Red campaign, more than 627,000 women's lives have been saved by being informed.