Cardiovascular disease is number 1 killer in women, American Heart Association says

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- February 4 is National Wear Red Day and February is also American Heart Month.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in women - more than all cancers combined.

In fact, 1 in 3 women will lose their life to heart disease. Women of color bear the burden of this disease. Black women had a hospitalization rate of 240% more for heart failure and Hispanic women had a hospitalization rate of 55% more compared to white women, according to data.

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The symptoms women feel are often different from those of men.

"For women, it could be nausea and vomiting, jaw, neck or upper back pain. It could be pain or pressure in the lower chest or the abdomen," said Veronica Sanchez, the senior director of Health Care Systems Community Impact American Heart Association.

Sanchez actually had a heart attack about 10 years ago before joining the association. She said the symptoms you hear often get dismissed by women thinking it's something else. Sanchez said she woke up with heavy pressure on her chest and a sensation to use the bathroom.



"About every five minutes, I was having a full bladder that I had to empty. What I know now, that I did not know then. is that I was dying," she said. "Actually, had I not woken up, (my husband) would have found me dead in the morning lying next to him."

She said it was her husband who convinced her to go to the ER. Since then, she's had surgery. But before heading into the operating room, Sanchez said she prayed.

"I prayed for more time and what I said to God was, 'If you give me more time, I will make good use of it and I will make sure I use it wisely to educate others,' and so that is what I have been doing," she said.

Sanchez is a former banker and now works with the American Heart Association educating women about what to look out for. This month, the association is hoping you "Reclaim Your Rhythm" and take back control of your physical health and mental well-being.



Here are five ways to do so:

Mellow out and Reduce Stress: A positive mindset can improve your overall health.

Move to the Music: Physical activity is linked to lower risk of diseases, stronger bones and muscles, improved mental health and cognitive function and lower risk of depression.

Feed your Soul, Rock your Recipes: Regular meals at home with family reduce stress, boost self-esteem and make the whole family feel connected.

Stay on Beat with Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is a leading cause and controllable risk factor for heart disease and stroke and can contribute to worse outcomes for people who contract COVID-19.

Keep the Beat! Learn Hands-Only CPR: According to the American Heart Association, about 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests do not survive.

For more information or for what signs you need to look out for, visit the American Heart Association's website.

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