I forgot to wear red yesterday

Which is just as well, really, since I only left the house for about seven minutes, so even if I'd participated in yesterday's National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease in women, I would only have been spreading a message around a household already painfully aware. Part of me thinks it must be terribly tiresome for my readers to hear over and over again about my mother's death from heart disease. And the other part of me figures that until the issue heart disease in women has the same level of awareness and visibility of breast cancer then I'm going to keep belly-aching about it. To help me with that mission, here's a link to an article from today's CNN.com. It's not news, exactly. The headline reads, "Heart disease often misdiagnosed in women." That much I knew. Heart disease in general -- and heart attacks in particular -- present very differently in women than they do in men. So too often women -- and medical professionals -- fail to recognize what's going on. In addition, women often aren't taken as seriously as men with any medical complaint, whatever that's about.

 As a result, women are more likely than men to die from a heart attack. I don't know if my mother would be alive today if she'd known that the nausea, vomiting and pain in her back meant something terrible was happening with her heart. No one can say. But I do know I'm continually shocked by the lack of awareness people have about heart disease in women. So here are a few little facts to annoy you:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the US, accounting for 32% of all deaths annually. It kills more women each year than breast cancer, lung cancer and ALL THE OTHER cancers combined.
  • Women who smoke risk having a heart attack 19 years earlier than women who don't smoke.
  • More women than men die of heart disease each year, yet women receive only:
    • 33% of angioplasties, stents and bypass surgeries
    • 28% of inplantable defibrillators and
    • 36% of open-heart surgeries
  • Women comprise only 25% of participants in all heart-related research studies.

That last one kills me, if you'll pardon the poor turn of phrase. If women are dying more from this disease than men, why on EARTH are they such a small percent of the research study groups? I don't get it. I really just don't get it.