February is National Heart Month and the first Friday of the month American Heart Association is asking you to wear red as a part of Go Red for Women Day, a campaign that dates back to 2004.
Wearing red is just the start in the battle against saving lives from cardiovascular disease.
According to AHA, 80% of cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke and heart disease, is preventable.
Melanie Johnson is a Carilion Clinic nurse who has worked in cardiac care areas for the last 40 years and is the clinical coordinator for HeartNet of the Virginias.
Johnson said while people may be concerned to go to the hospital in case of a medical emergency, she urges patients to not prolong treatment. She said even before the pandemic, people would delay calling 911 or going to the hospital out of denial; thinking they are too young, too healthy or simply not knowing the symptoms.
Common symptoms of a heart attack for men and women include chest pains, short breaths and nausea.
“If these come on and stay on for more than five minutes or more, please call 911 at the five-minute mark. ...Time is very important,” said Johnson.
While Go Red for Women Day puts a spotlight on the ladies, men are also very much impacted by cardiovascular disease.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one killer of men and women.
There are some risk factors you can’t control, like family history of heart disease, age and gender. There are a list of factors you can do something about including smoking, second-hand smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and stress.
Johnson understands the pandemic is making some of those factors harder to eliminate.
In past years, Johnson would help Carilion Clinic host screenings and a health fair for employees. This year, they have activities and resources online.
“In the age of the pandemic, we’ve been under so much stress and also in the pandemic a lot of folks are working from home and they maybe don’t realize they’re not getting as much physical activity as they used to...and also you’re pretty close to your refrigerator as well,” Johnson said.
Johnson said even modest weight loss can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Click here to check out an online tool to show how prevalent heart disease and stroke is in your community.