NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – You may have noticed more people than normal wearing red Friday.Police: 2 Men Wanted In Violent Queens Home Invasion Stole $3,000 From Woman At Gunpoint
While experts say heart disease remains the number one killer of women in the United States, many remain unaware of its risk to their health.
“Shortness of breath, I couldn’t walk uphill,” said Sharon Bond.
Ten years ago, after experiencing a slew of symptoms, the New York City mother of four quickly alerted her primary care doctor.
“He kind of brushed me off about it and said go lose weight,” Bond said.
Shortly after, she suffered a heart attack.
Turns out, she had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease which made it harder for her heart to pump blood, and needed open heart surgery.
“I was so in shock that my ears were ringing,” Bond said.
Now recovered, Bond is a staunch supporter of National Wear Red Day, a movement by the American Heart Association to raise awareness about heart disease in women.
According to the Association, cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of women, claiming the lives of one in three women in the US.
“This has been traditionally thought of as a man’s disease and not a woman’s problem,” said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum.READ MORE: Police: 14-Year-Old Robbed Inside Bronx Laundromat
Steinbaum, a New York City cardiologist, says in reality more women die every year from heart disease than men.
She adds symptoms present differently among the genders.
“The Hollywood heart attack of an elephant sitting on your chest… for women, that’s just not the case,” she said. “It could be more subtle, with shortness of breath, jaw pain, back pain, nausea, vomiting, even flu-like symptoms.”
The disease even more dire for Black and Hispanic women.
“Black and Hispanic women are disproportionately affected by heart disease with an increase in high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity,” Steinbaum said. “There’s disparity in care that also exists, and outcomes for Black and Hispanic women are significantly worse.”
Dr. Steinbaum adds its imperative all women over the age of 20 know their numbers, including their BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
“Eighty percent of the time heart disease is preventable,” Steinbaum said. “Once we know our risk factors, we can tackle it with diet and exercise, sometimes medication.
“Had I known the signs… I could have furthermore investigated it and got a second opinion,” Bond said.
She says knowing your numbers could save your life.
Since her heart struggles began, Bond has now started The Heart Speaks Foundation to help raise awareness about heart disease in women.
You can learn more about the foundation by CLICKING HERE.
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Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.