February 2, 2012

National Wear Red Day®: One Case Scenerio

Filed under: FEATURE STORIES — carolyncholland @ 12:05 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



     The call came on Wednesday morning. Our niece, I’ll call her Olivia, had a heart attack and was being taken by helicopter from her hometown hospital (A) to another hospital (B), over an hour’s flight away, which had better facilities to handle her case.

     Olivia had complained, more than usual, of being tired. Her husband, Fred, told her to get up and do something or to take a nap. Now he is upset that he didn’t recognize the importance of her complaints.

     On Tuesday evening Olivia demonstrated symptoms akin to pneumonia. She couldn’t breathe. Her lungs filled up with fluid. She was in and out of consciousness. She was taken to her community hospital (A) by ambulance. While there she was stabilized. A blood test showed she had experienced a heart attack. The decision was made to fly her to hospital (B).

     Her daughter, I’ll call her Irene, arrived at the hospital (B) an hour after Olivia did. Irene found her laughing and cracking jokes with the nurses.

     The doctor performed a heart scope to determine the extent of the damage. One artery was 100% blocked and its valve was sticking open, creating a leak.

Two other arteries were 80% blocked. Their valves were OK.

     The doctor did the least medical intervention, putting a stent in the 100% blocked artery. He will watch to see if the leaky valve begins to heal. If it does, he will release her to her hometown hospital. If it doesn’t, Olivia will have open heart surgery to repair the valve.

     If Olivia is doing OK in a month the doctor wants her to return to the hospital, where he will put stents into her two 80% blocked arteries.


     Olivia is lucky. Instead of being a coronary disease survivor, she could have been a coronary disease fatality.

     The call about her heart attack came at 11:15 a. m. on February 1, 2012, two days before National Wear Red Day®.

     To make women more aware of the danger of heart disease, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and partner organizations are sponsoring a national campaign called The Heart Truth®. The campaign’s goal is to give women a personal and urgent wakeup call about their risk of heart disease.*

     The campaign is especially aimed at women ages 40 to 60, the age when a woman’s risk of heart disease starts to rise. But its messages are also important for younger women, since heart disease develops gradually and can start at a young age-even in the teenage years. Older women have an interest too—it’s never too late to take action to prevent and control the risk factors for heart disease. Even those who have heart disease can improve their heart health and quality of life.*

     The campaign tells women that “The Heart Truth starts with you. Talk to your doctor, find out your risk, and take action today to lower it.” Its messages are underscored by the moving stories of real women who are living with heart disease.*


     February is American Heart Month.

     The first Friday in February—February 3 in 2012—is National Wear Red Day®, a day set aside to bring attention to the problem of heart disease in women.

     I’m personally no stranger to coronary disease, being a coronary artery disease patient with a stent. I also have a sister eleven years younger than me who had a severe heart attack at a young age, and another sister who had quadruple heart bypass surgery and later had a stroke. Fortunately, we all survived, but we are dealing with different levels of damage.

     I’m left with the question of when to be concerned about seeing the doctor and when not to be concerned. Heart disease can be so nebulous, so cloudy, in women: symptoms mimic many other causes. Thus, every woman (and man) should know the facts about heart disease and each woman’s risk for heart disease.


Know the facts about heart disease.

  • Heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and White women. For Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Asian American women, heart disease is second only to cancer.
  • Heart disease killed 25% of women who died in 2008—one in every four.
  • Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

Know your risk for heart disease and heart attack.
Some conditions and some lifestyle factors can put women at a higher risk for getting heart disease. Knowing your risk factors can help you to adjust your lifestyle and reduce your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.**

     I’ve worn red on National Wear Red Day® for several years. I will do so again this year.


®National Wear Red Day is a registered trademark of HHS and AHA.





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1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for sharing that!

    Comment by IamNotDefined — February 2, 2012 @ 1:42 am | Reply

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