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Two-Minute Warning: February is Time for Quick, Easy Heart Health Screenings for Women

| IndianapolisKey Facts:

  • February is American Heart Month and home to “Go Red for Women.”
  • More women die from cardiovascular disease than all cancers combined.
  • Indiana University Health hospitals throughout state holding several free events to raise women’s heart health awareness in February.


It’s a “chameleon” that takes the shape of the symptoms of other illnesses. Often, it can go undiagnosed or untreated, even though it kills more women than all cancers combined.

Heart disease affects more than 1 in 3 U.S. women, yet many will brush off its symptoms as nothing more than extreme fatigue or indigestion. That’s why Indiana University Health hospitals throughout the state are urging women to check their heart health on their own or at any of several screenings during February, which is also American Heart Month.

“Heart disease is like a chameleon because you never know what it will look like,” said Dr. Elisabeth von der Lohe, a cardiologist and director of the Women’s Heart Program with IU Health. “Many women experience these common symptoms without knowing they’ve developed heart disease or are experiencing a heart attack. It is important women get screened for their heart health so when they experience these symptoms again, they’ll know it could be indicative of something more serious.”

Some women might not realize the following symptoms could be precursors to heart disease:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Squeezing behind the breast bone
  • Fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting among diabetics

For decades, heart disease was thought of as being a man’s disease, von der Lohe said, largely because most studies focused on women between the ages of 50 and 60. However, most women develop heart disease later in life, which means many studies were analyzing the wrong age set.

Through events like “Go Red for Women,” IU Health is hoping to raise awareness of heart disease among Hoosier women. Go Red for Women is an American Heart Association (AHA) campaign that aims to dispel heart disease myths and empower women through education. Approximately 1,000 people will convene for Go Red for Women on Feb. 17 at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis to share and listen to heart stories and advice from IU Health physicians and others.

Those who cannot attend the Feb. 17 event can assess their heart attack risk in just a couple minutes for free online at websites such as the Framingham Risk Score and CardioSmart. Several IU Health hospitals throughout the system are also getting a jump start on Go Red for Women by holding their own events and projects starting this week.

Upcoming central Indiana events:

IU Health West Hospital, 1111 N. Ronald Reagan Parkway, Avon: Hendricks County residents can pick up free red bows and ribbons at several locations throughout the county and adorn everything from doors to car antennas – even themselves – as part of the “Red Bow Brigade.” The campaign aims to raise awareness for heart health.

Heart health educational seminars and screening opportunities are also scheduled every Wednesday throughout the month. For event details, call 317.217.3566.

IU Health Tipton Hospital, 1000 S. Main St., Tipton: “Women Take Charge of Your Heart Health,” 6 p.m. Feb. 2. Free blood and diabetes screenings, as well as a heart health talk with board certified cardiologist Dr. Nathan Lambert. Event is free and open to the public. For more details, call 765.675.8575.

IU Health North Hospital, 11700 N. Meridian St., Carmel: Go Red for Women kickoff event, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 3. Breakfast cooking demonstration, educational sessions, giveaways and free blood pressure screenings. Physicians and/or nurses will be on site to address cardiovascular questions. Some sessions require registration. Additional details online.

IU Health facilities throughout central Indiana will also be distributing red scarves to staff and community leaders for additional heart health awareness.

For a short video on women’s heart health, visit our YouTube page at http://youtube.com/iuhealth.

To set up an interview with Dr. Elisabeth von der Lohe, contact Kristofer Karol at 317.962.4589 or kkarol@iuhealth.org.

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About Indiana University Health Named among the “Best Hospitals in America” by U.S. News & World Report for 14 consecutive years, Indiana University Health is dedicated to providing a unified standard of preeminent, patient-centered care. A unique partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine – one of the nation’s leading medical schools – gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology.

Go to IU Health Newsroom

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