Program's message: Heart attacks favor no gender


Jon Pelky of Salem Hospital shares information on heart health with Lydia Harms.

DALLAS -- Jon Pelkey, the Salem Hospital cardiac line director, and members of Salem Cardiology were at West Valley Hospital last week to promote cardiovascular health for women.

The "Go Red for Women" campaign was designed by the American Heart Association to raise awareness about the prevalence of heart disease in women.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 one killer of men and women in the United States.

"A lot of women think about breast cancer, and many women know the symptoms of hearts disease in men, but few know that more women die from cardiovascular disease than from any other disease," Pelky said.

Lydia Harms of Dallas knows how important it is to get her blood pressure checked regularly, but she didn't realize that the symptoms were different for her than for her four brothers.

An Oregon Health Sciences study revealed that most women admitted to hospitals for heart attacks waited on average 4.5 hours before calling 911 or getting to the hospital.

According to the American Heart Association: "Not all heart attacks are sudden and intense, such as the 'movie heart attack,' during which someone dramatically gasps, clutches her heart and drops to the ground. Most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain and discomfort."

The following are signs of a heart attack in women (but can apply to men as well):

Chest discomfort, uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the body, in both arms, the neck, back, jaw, or stomach.

Shortness of breath (far more common for women than men). This is often accompanied by chest discomfort, but can occur before the person's chest begins to hurt.

Other signs are a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Pelky said that West Valley Hospital hosts a cardiology clinic at least twice a month where people can come and have their heart tested by Salem cardiologist Dr. James P. Lowry.

If a person is found to be at risk, or has cardiac complications, Lowry and his staff can refer them to a specialist, admit them to the hospital, or advise them about how to lower their risk factors.

For more information: Go Red For Women Campaign at or, or West Valley Hospital at 503-623-8301.

To put on a Go Red for Women event, call Jon Pelky at 503-561-5412.


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