February 1, 2013
February is Heart Month, and it kicked off Friday with National Wear Red Day, part of the "Go Red for Women" campaign. It's an effort by the American Heart Association to raise awareness about heart disease and inspire women to make heart health a priority.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Every minute, one female dies because of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. That's more than all types of cancer combined.
UVa. Health cardiologist Dr. Angela Taylor says early detection is critical but not always obvious.
"We commonly think of heart disease as this crushing, subcarnial chest pain, and that's what everyone thinks of as a heart attack, but women's symptoms can be remarkably different," said Dr. Taylor.
Dr. Taylor says signs of heart disease could be anything from fatigue to shortness of breath, or simply not sleeping as well as you used to.
When local heart disease advocate Jo Viglione had her first heart scare, it couldn't have come at a more unusual time.
"I was feeling great," said Viglione. "I had just been to my doctor and gotten a great checkup when I had my first heart event, which just didn't compute."
Viglione encourages women to get checked out by their doctors as soon as they are concerned something could be wrong.
"It saved my life. Not only saved my life, but it allowed me to go on and live a very full and healthy life," she said.
Viglione says shining the spotlight on heart health isn't just about raising awareness; it's also about raising money for research.
She serves on the executive leadership committee for the American Heart Association's Charlottesville Heart Ball. The 15th annual fundraising event will take place March 2 at the Boar's Head Inn.