September 3, 2013
Originally published Feb. 20, 2012
In television shows or on the big screen, actors simulate having a heart attack by clutching their chests and falling to the ground in a very dramatic fashion. And while chest pain and pressure is a sign of a heart attack, other less commonly known symptoms can also signal the onset of heart distress, particularly in women. But, according to a 2009 American Heart Association survey, few women were aware of the most common heart attack symptoms and only half of women indicated they would call 9-1-1 if they thought they were having a heart attack. The Chatham County Health Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health found a creative way to try and change that in southeast Georgia.
"Make the Call. Don't Miss a Beat." is a campaign by the Office on Women's Health to educate women about heart attacks. "Let's Dance, Savannah!" is a Chatham County Health Department initiative to encourage dancing as a legitimate form of exercise and a way to prevent heart disease. Put them together and you get two fun-filled, educational events called "Let's Dance, Savannah: Don't Miss a Beat!"
"Let's Dance Savannah: Don't Miss a Beat!" is a series of two events, the first held on February 11 and the second scheduled for February 25, that offers free dance classes, blood pressure checks, body mass index screens and blood glucose testing. The events, both held at shopping malls in Savannah, are aimed at giving attendees a chance to learn more about the most common heart attack symptoms in women and improve their heart health through dance.
"We thought this was a great way to empower women to be mindful of their own cardiovascular health," said Coastal Health District Director of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Cristina Gibson. "These events not only promote dance as a fun way to exercise, but also provide an opportunity to make women aware of heart attack symptoms and what they need to do if they experience any of those symptoms."
The dance classes offered at "Let's Dance, Savannah: Don't Miss a Beat!" range in styles from ballet to African dance to hip-hop to line dancing. Attendees are given literature outlining the seven most common symptoms of a heart attack in women and are urged to call 9-1-1 if they experience one or more of those symptoms which include chest pain, discomfort, pressure or squeezing, shortness of breath, nausea, light-headedness or sudden dizziness; unusual upper body pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck, jaw, or upper part of the stomach; unusual fatigue or breaking out in a cold sweat.
"Women don't usually think about nausea or feelings of indigestion as signs of a heart attack but the fact is that they very well could be," said Gibson. "The Office on Women's Health encourages women with any symptoms of a heart attack to seek treatment immediately. An hour could mean the difference between life and death."
Local partners for the events included the Community Cardiovascular Council, the Armstrong Atlantic State University Health Science Department, and CVS. For more information on the national "Make the Call. Don't Miss a Beat." campaign, visit www.womenshealth.gov/heartattack.