Red Alert

A new campaign to raise awareness among women of how to protect themselves from the risk of heart disease and stroke, begins this September led by the Irish Heart Foundation and supported by the Health Service Executive.

The campaign will focus on specific issues for women including healthy lifestyle behaviours, recognition of signs and symptoms of heart attack, stroke recognition and appropriate management of high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as the impact of menopause on women’s heart health.

Dr Kate McGarry, Consultant Physician and Chair of the Irish Heart Foundation’s Council on Women and CVD said: “Every two hours a woman dies in Ireland from cardiovascular disease (heart, stroke and blood vessel diseases). When it comes to health issues, women are more concerned about breast cancer even though seven times as many women die from heart disease and stroke in Ireland each year. Our goal is to alert women that especially after the menopause, they are at risk of heart attack and stroke, as much as any man. But the good news is that a positive lifestyle can alter risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Go Red for Women is a wake-up call to every woman in Ireland to take care of her heart health.”

Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation, Consultant Cardiologist, Dr Angie Brown said: “The campaign also aims to highlight that the signs and symptoms of heart attack may be different for women to those of men. A woman may experience more vague symptoms such as nausea, tiredness, shortness of breath, rather than the more usual crushing pain in the chest. Unfortunately this may mean that women delay in getting to the hospital and therefore lose valuable time for the necessary treatment.”

Maureen Mulvihill, Health Promotion Manager from the Irish Heart Foundation said: “Throughout the month of September our charity, supported by the Health Service Executive (HSE), will promote healthy lifestyle behaviours so more women will know how to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and will recognise the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke.

Red Alert – Key Message

* Enjoy life. Take time out for yourself and keep in touch with friends
* Be active – at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity 5 times a week
* Eat more fruit and vegetables and less fat and fries. Eat more fresh food and less convenience foods
* If you smoke, try to stop
* Go easy on alcohol –  no more than 14 standard drinks per week
* Have regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks with your family doctor
* Know your family history and know the signs and symptoms of heart disease

Information Source: Irish Heart Foundation

6 Responses to Red Alert

  1. Grannymar says:

    I would add one more to that list. If you have the symptoms, don’t waste time phoning family members or the local GP, that wastes precious time. CALL The Emergency Services – 999 or 911 whatever the number is in your area.

    • Steph says:

      Grannymar – Good advice!

      The IHF also advise on theIr website… “Not all of the symptoms are always present. If only some of the symptoms are present, don’t wait. Get help fast and dial 999. Meanwhile sit or lie down.”

  2. Annb says:

    It’s amazing to read how subtle the symptoms are for women as opposed to the ‘crushing pain’ for men – I wonder is that because they wouldn’t listen to subtle and need a really LOUD alert to make them take notice 😉

    • Steph says:

      Ann – I agree with you. I suspect that as women tend to be more aware of their bodies than men, they seek help before they reach the stage of the crushing pain.

      This topic was featured on the main evening news last night and they used the example of a middle-aged woman who’d had a heart attack and whose initial presentation was the feeling of an upset stomach. When that symtom didn’t go away, she sought help.

      I think this is a great campaign as the more people are made aware of possible coronary symptoms, the more lives will be saved.

  3. Grannymar says:

    A story that might prove helpful.

    1. While in Cardiac Care I once teased about the aches in my arms, I explained that it felt like I had spent the night painting all the ceilings in the hospital using a paintbrush in each hand. I was asked if I took my GTN spray, not having done so since I thought it was muscle ache, I was told to do so immediately. About three minutes later the same member of the team was back at my bedside to ask if it had helped. The aches were easing. The next question was “How is your head”? My head was bursting. This was the expected answer – The spray opens all the blood vessels including those in your head and since the skull is hard the head feels the pressure. This also proves that the spray is working.

    That day I was told not to take anything for granted. A week earlier a lady presented with indigestion and a pain in her little finger – She was having a heart attack!

    Ladies LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Sermon over…

    • Steph says:

      Grannymar – It was a very good sermon 🙂 You are actually a model cardiac patient as when you read through the key message from this campaign, you get full marks for following the instructions to a tee!

      I once went to my GP with pains in my chest and he immediately gave me a GTN spray to use. It didn’t do anything for the chest pain (it was not cardiac in origin) but my God did it give me a horrible headache afterwards.

      The IHF website gives excellent advice on how to recognise the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke. I certainly learnt from it.

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