People across central Illinois are celebrating National Wear Red Day. It's part of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
Dr. Madhu Jyothinagaram is a cardiologist at Decatur Memorial Hospital. He says, "The most common part of heart disease is blockages in the arteries that supply to the heart and that is called coronary artery disease which is the majority of heart disease."
It's called the silent killer.
"Most of heart disease is due to diseases that are silent," said Jyothinagaram. Which is hypertension, hypocholesterolemia, diabetes because most patients don't have any symptoms."
Dr. Luis Caceres at St. Mary's Hospital says this is especially the case for women.
"Symptoms in women are less prominent or different than in men. They are not as specific, and more subtle."
Once women turn 45, the chances of them developing heart disease increases.
"Estrogen protects women against heart disease and when menopause comes in place, the female hormones are decreased and the incidents of heart disease start to go up."
But that doesn't mean women younger than 45 shouldn't start protecting themselves now.
"Arteriosclerosis, which is hardening of the arteries, which is responsible for heart disease starts in your twenties."
The good news is heart disease is preventable.
"You've got to start establishing the need for healthy eating, moderation in alcohol consumption, exercise right from you twenties, and then also regular check-ups."
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