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Four UCF Pegasus Health physicians joined College of Medicine Dean Dr. Deborah German recently at Orlando’s “Go Red” for health luncheon to increase awareness and research funding for women’s heart disease.

Hundreds of women gathered at the May 9 American Heart Association event at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort – most wearing red. Attendees heard from several heart disease survivors who had no idea they were suffering from a condition that affects an estimated 43 million women in the United States. UCF Pegasus Health internal medicine physicians Dr. Maria Cannarozzi, Dr. Analia Castiglioni and Dr. Irene Alexandraki, and rheumatologist Dr. Neha Bhanusali attended the event helping to represent the College of Medicine.

All have urged women to be proactive with their health and be aware that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of females as well as men, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.

Go Red for Women events provide strong evidence that women must care for their own heart health – even as they care for partners, spouses, children and parents. Several heart disease survivors talked about mistakenly believing that heart disease is a man’s condition – and not realizing they were at risk until they suffered a heart attack or other emergency.

Physicians at UCF Pegasus Health say many women are keenly aware of needing mammograms to detect breast cancer but may not be as diligent about other screenings, including those for heart disease and colon cancer. Because women’s symptoms of a heart attack may be different from traditional male signs like chest pain, women may not realize that neck, shoulder and jaw pain, shortness of breath, nausea and unusual fatigue may be a heart attack.

Here are some Go Red statistics that UCF Pegasus Health physicians want women to know:

  • Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
  • Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
  • While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
  • Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
  • Women comprise only 24 percent of participants in all heart-related studies.
  • Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.
  • Of African American women ages 20 and older, 46.9 percent have cardiovascular disease.
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