CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Along with the frigid temperatures, February brings with it a couple of reasons to take matters of the heart seriously.
Of course there's Valentine's Day, with flowers, chocolate and the kind of love that makes our hearts beat faster.
But with this behind us, there is no better time to take a look at the kind of information that makes our hearts beat healthier.
The American Heart Association chose February to remind us of the disproportionate number of women in America dying of heart disease. It calls upon everyone to sound an alarm and get the word out to our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces and granddaughters that heart disease will claim more lives than all cancers combined -- in fact, one woman each minute.
The Go Red for Women campaign asks us to wear red not only to encourage awareness on these risks but also to advocate for more research and swifter action for women's heart health.
What heart experts say
What women say
Most women believe they will never have a heart attack -- only 1 in 5 American women believe heart disease is her greatest health threat. The challenge facing the AHA, therefore, is to persuade women to take responsibility for their heart health.
This means focusing on prevention by having some simple tests to determine blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, fasting blood glucose as well as height, weight and waist circumference. Taking the responsibility of checking these numbers each year can lower the risk of heart disease and heart incident.
Also, women must learn to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, as they may be entirely different from a man's symptoms.
What women feel
Women may feel uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of her chest or back, and it may last several minutes, or it may come and go for weeks. She may have discomfort or tingling in one or both arms or pain in her back, neck, jaw or stomach. For no reason at all, she may experience shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting or break out in a cold sweat.
Any or all of these symptoms are important and should never be overlooked. Bottom line: Women mistakenly believe that if they don't have a heart defect, they will never have to worry. But look at the risk factors they may already own: