DECATUR -- Heart disease is the leading killer of women in Illinois. Just over 1 in 4 women suffer from heart disease.
Friday kicked off National Heart Month, and marks the 10th anniversary of the American Heart Association's "Go Red for Women" campaign. St. Mary's Hospital in Decatur is raising awareness so women know the risks.
Heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure can lead to obesity and other health problems like diabetes.
Cardiologist Jeanne Marie Kairouz said it's important to focus on women, because good heart health can reach the entire family as a result.
"Women are the center of the family in many households," Kairouz said. "As a result, the woman is the one who directs the lifestyle for the husband, for potentially the grandparents and for the children."
Dr. Kairouz said better education for women regarding heart disease, including risk factors and lifestyle "will hopefully help childhood obesity... our male counterparts, and hopefully everyone else in our lives."
You can't help your genetics, said Kairouz. But people do have control over living a heart-healthy life.
To commemorate National Heart Month, St. Mary's will be hosting free heart-healthy events throughout February.