National Go Red for Women Day encourages awareness, prevention of heart disease

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Story Updated: Feb 3, 2012

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Friday was National Go Red for Women Day, a day when women are encouraged to take the time to think about their health and how to reduce their risk for heart disease. It's practice that most women don't do, which is why the disease claims so many lives each year.

Exercise physiologist Jody Barnes, of Faxton-St. Luke's Healthcare, says she sees many women come to the cardiac rehab center - women like Arlene, 74, who had open heart surgery in January. When she came for her first visit to the rehab center, she was using gym equipment she rarely used, if ever, before her surgery.

"She started to get run down and tired and started putting it off," said Arlene's niece, Shannon Hagerty. "Then we had an incident that resulted in a trip to the emergency room."

Many women, like Arlene, often ignore the signs and symptoms of heart problems. That's why the American Heart Association started "Go Red for Women Day" to bring awareness about the disease.

"Women tend to be always willing to take care of others and not take care of themselves," said Barnes. "They need to be able to recognize their personal risk factors for heart disease and be able to change them."

Barnes says heart disease can strike at any age. What's important for women is to carve out a little time for themselves every day to change their diet and get more exercise. She says if women make little changes, they can reduce their chances of heart disease and keep them out of places like the cardiac rehab center.

In an effort to get more women to take their heart health seriously, the American Heart Association released a short film Friday called "Just a Little Heart Attack." It stars Elizabeth Banks as a mom ignoring the signs of a heart attack in favor of getting her kids out the door.

To watch the short film and get tips on how to reduce your chances of getting heart disease, visit goredforwomen.org

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