Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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A BI-WEEKLY PUBLICATION FROM THE CEDARS-SINAI CHIEF OF STAFF Feb. 15, 2013 | Archived Issues

Wear Red Event Puts Spotlight on Heart Disease

Numbers don't lie – a broken heart is the No. 1 killer of women.

While progress is being made to reach and educate women about their risk, more research focused on women is needed in order to reverse heart disease's toll on women, said Puja K. Mehta, MD, director of the Non-Invasive Vascular Function Research Laboratory at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute's Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center.

Mehta was one of several to speak during Cedars-Sinai's annual Wear Red Day for Women event in Harvey Morse Auditorium on Feb. 1. One of many across the nation, the event focused on increasing awareness about heart disease in women among its employees. Dozens of women and men wearing red attended Friday's event and took part in a group photo (above).

Terran Lamp, who was born with heart disease, also spoke at the event. She read a poem her grandmother wrote for her that centered on Lamp's broken heart.

"While all the other kids were learning how to read books, I was learning how to read an EKG," she said about living with heart disease as a child. "I had monthly pacemaker checks. … I couldn't be in the kitchen when the microwave was on."

Lamp said her mission is to inspire others.

"I want to do my part to encourage others to ensure they are heart healthy,” she said. "Half of all Americans have at least one pre-existing condition for heart disease.”

During her presentation, Mehta, also co-director of the Cardio-Oncology Program in the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center, detailed the pre-existing conditions of heart disease, especially as they relate to women. And she highlighted the atypical early warning signs of heart disease in women, such as shortness of breath, pain that feels like heartburn, nausea, unusual and profound fatigue, and unusual anxiety.

She said there are several ways to prevent heart disease, such as by eating healthy and exercising.

Mehta also discussed the consequences that certain cancer treatments – chemotherapy and radiation – have on the heart.

Maria Estella, a medical lab assistant who attended the event for the first time on Friday, said she was impressed by the presentations of Lamp and Mehta. She said they hit home because she recently underwent tests related to heart disease.

"After hearing what Dr. Mehta had to say about women and how we don't necessarily pay attention to symptoms, I know there are questions I need to ask," she said. "I know what to pay attention to now."