Join Rapides Regional Medical Center employees as they promote women's heart health on National Wear Red Day, Friday, Feb. 1.

This one-day event takes place nationwide and includes millions of women, companies, community organizations and cities. Participation is easy. All you have to do is wear your favorite red dress, shirt or tie to build awareness of the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.

“This Wear Red Day is a way for us to recognize our friends and loved ones diagnosed with heart disease – as well as those friends and loved ones for whom diagnosis came too late,” said Charla Ducote, Rapides Regional Medical Center's vice president of marketing, public relations and business development.

This event can also serve as a reminder to women who need to schedule a visit with their physician for a heart-healthy checkup.

“Women need to pay particular attention to the warning signs because their warning signs are often very different from those experienced by men,” said Chance DeWitt, M.D.  Dr. DeWitt, a cardiovascular surgeon, is this year's Central Louisiana Heart Walk chairperson. “Almost two-thirds of women who have a heart attack do not experience chest pain, radiating into the arm, though that's the key warning sign you hear most about.

“In women, if there is any pain, it can be in the right arm, back, neck, shoulder or throat.”

Other non-pain symptoms often experienced by women include: vomiting, nausea, pressure, fatigue and shortness of breath.

“It's extremely important that women first take care of themselves by scheduling routine heart checkups,” Dr. DeWitt said. “But second, they should educate themselves so they know how to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack if it happens to them – and seek help immediately. It is very important for women who smoke or have a family history of heart disease to have check-ups before they have trouble.”

RRMC is offering free community education materials and speakers for groups planning Heart Healthy events during February. Call (318) 769-4027 to make a request.