Cedars-Sinai Blog

Out of the Red: Progress in Women's Heart Health

Cedars-Sinai employees go red for women's heart health.

Today, people across the nation celebrated National Wear Red Day—an event started by the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women to raise money and awareness to prevent heart disease in women.

Cedars-Sinai celebrated its first Women’s Heart Health Day 12 years ago. The event is hosted by the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health program, which is devoted to improving treatment options for women and educating them about heart disease.

The first time women at Cedars-Sinai donned their favorite red frocks and posed for a picture together in the name of women’s heart health awareness, the number of heart disease-related deaths among women was still on the rise and women were dying of heart disease more frequently than men.

This year, according to the American Heart Association, the number of deaths from heart disease has been steadily dropping among men and women. Women die from heart disease in roughly the same numbers as men.

"We’ve done some pretty important work, and I’m particularly proud of what we’ve done here at Cedars-Sinai," said Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz, medical director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center. "Those are our patients' lives."

Some key facts on women and heart disease from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 292,188 women in 2013– that’s 1 in every 4 female deaths.
  • Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Despite increases in awareness over the past decade, only 54 percent of women recognize that heart disease is their #1 killer.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African-American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer.
  • About 5.8 percent of all white women, 7.6 percent of black women, and 5.6 percent of Mexican-American women have coronary heart disease.
  • Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even if a woman has no symptoms, she still could be at risk for heart disease.

One basic step every woman should take now to protect her heart is to simply seek out basic screening from a primary care physician. Get your blood pressure taken and have your cholesterol level checked every year. Women at higher risk should also be aware of their blood sugar levels.

You don’t even need a doctor, necessarily. You can seek out this screening at local pharmacies, with a physician's assistant or nurse practitioner.

Did you Go Red this Friday? Share your photos with us on Facebook and Twitter.