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Notice to Readers: American Heart Month --- February 2009

As part of American Heart Month, February 6 is National Wear Red Day, a day when persons across the United States wear red to show their support for women's heart disease awareness. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, with women accounting for nearly half of those deaths (1).

In 2006, 7.9 million persons in the United States reported ever having a heart attack (1). The major signs of a heart attack are chest pain or discomfort; pain in the arm or shoulder; pain in the jaw, neck or back; shortness of breath; and feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. Although the most commonly experienced symptom of a heart attack for both men and women is chest pain or discomfort, women are more likely than men to experience other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, pain in the back or jaw, or nausea (2). Women also are more likely than men to delay seeking emergency treatment for a heart attack. Receiving immediate treatment substantially increases the chance of surviving a heart attack (2).

Additional information on women and heart disease prevention is available at Information on National Wear Red Day activities is available at Information on CDC's heart disease programs is available at


  1. American Heart Association. Heart disease and stroke statistics---2009 update. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association; 2009. Available at
  2. National Institutes of Health; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Women and heart attack. Available at

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Date last reviewed: 1/28/2009


Safer, Healthier People

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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