As part of the American Heart Association’s national “Go Red for Women” campaign, Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency dispatchers, Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center staff and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue personnel are exchanging their regular uniform shirts for red ones in recognition that heart disease is the top killer of women in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. They will continue wearing the shirts throughout Heart Month.
The partnership between Legacy Meridian Park, TVF&R and WCCCA will help raise awareness about the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack – which can be different for men and women – and when to call 911.
The red shirts sport an important message: Know the signs of a heart attack, don’t delay, and call 911.
Identifying the symptoms of a heart attack and calling 911 triggers a potentially lifesaving continuum of care for a cardiac patient. Dispatchers provide important CPR instruction, bystanders and law enforcement officers perform CPR, firefighter paramedics begin advanced medical care in the field, and hospitals like Legacy Meridian Park provide expert diagnosis and lifesaving treatment.
While the message is equally important for both men and women, awareness of heart disease and gender-specific heart symptoms in women has severely lagged behind that of men.
“Our emergency responders and staff are wearing red shirts during Heart Month because we believe that the strength of an entire community fighting side by side will ultimately prove more powerful than the nation’s No. 1 killer – heart disease,” states Fire Chief Mike Duyck. “Because our firefighter paramedics respond to over 3,500 cardiac-related calls each year, we will continue to tirelessly advocate for the heart health of our community and provide the most effective advanced medical care possible in the field.”
As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely to experience the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain. They are also symptoms that women often brush off as the flu, stress, or simply feeling under the weather, which could put their lives in jeopardy.
Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center Chief Administrative Officer Allyson Anderson states, “In its first 10 years, 'Go Red for Women' has raised awareness by 23 percent that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Greater awareness has been achieved through many grassroots efforts like this red shirt campaign. We are eager to maintain the Go Red momentum and are committed to saving lives with our dedicated catheterization lab and Chest Pain Center.”