“I had three heart attacks in one day,” says Yesenia Araujo. The first happened at her home. After arriving at the hospital, she had two more. Her symptoms included vomiting, fatigue and shortness of breath. All are common for female heart patients and can often lead to misdiagnosis. Fortunately, Yesenia’s story has a happy ending. Five years later, she is thriving and helping other women like her. As a WomenHeart Champion Yesenia educates women in her local community about heart disease – the primary killer of women.
The importance of education
WomenHeart has trained more than 850 “WomenHeart Champions,” like Yesenia, to provide support and education to women in their communities across the country. With more than 20,000 Latinas dying of heart disease each year, this work is especially important in Hispanic communities.
Hispanic women are 30 percent more likely to develop heart disease in comparison to Caucasian women. What’s more startling is the general lack of heart health awareness among Latinas. Only 34 percent of Hispanic women are aware that heart disease is their biggest health risk. Latinas in the United States are at greater risk of heart disease than non-Hispanics due to higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes ─ all risk factors of heart disease.
While these numbers are concerning, it’s not all bad news. Heart disease is 80 percent preventable. Some key risk factors can be altered and others cannot. Non-modifiable risk factors include, age, gender, race, and family history. Gender is particularly important, because heart disease symptoms are different in men and women. Health can be managed to some degree, so it is vital for Latina women to monitor controllable factors such as blood pressure, diet, weight and physical activity.
WomenHeart is committed to serving Hispanic women in a variety of ways. For the past seven years, we have partnered with Burlington Stores, engaging in a point-of-sale campaign and offering in-store heart health screenings. We offer free Spanish support programs, educational materials, and a toll-free help line.
Evan McCabe, Chair, Board of Directors, WomenHeart, [email protected]