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“Go Red for Women” Day holds a special significance for the people of Arkansas



Little Rock, Arkansas – The American Heart Association has been supporting women’s cardiovascular health for a century. Among the states leading the way in research is Arkansas.

Jean McSweeney conducted a study on women’s heart attack symptoms in 1990. Men usually experience chest discomfort during a heart attack, while women’s experiences vary greatly.

“They have shortness of breath,” McSweeney said. “This unusual fatigue, they get nauseated, they may vomit, [and] get light headed.”

According to McSweeney, funders’ desire for men to be included in the study nearly prevented her from receiving the grant money.

“I said we knew a lot about men and heart attacks, but we didn’t know anything about women in heart attacks,” McSweeney said.

Furthermore, according to McSweeney, many women with cardiovascular illness will have atypical symptoms.

Following her stroke, Jessie Bennett experienced great exhaustion and difficulty speaking.

“It’s certainly not something I would have to deal with at 38,” Bennett said. “I’m thankful the journey has led me here.”
That place is the American Heart Association.

The group has spent a century educating women about the importance of cardiovascular health because it is the primary cause of mortality.

The executive director of the Arkansas chapter of the American Heart Association is Nikki Smith.

One of the biggest hazards of heart disease, according to her, is that 40% of the state’s female high blood pressure patients do not take appropriate care of their condition.

“We need to know our numbers,” Smith said. “What’s our blood pressure? What’s our cholesterol? Those lipid numbers. We need to know all of those things so we can take care of ourselves.”

McSweeney’s research has been applied globally since it was published in the 1990s, assisting women in obtaining the necessary cardiac treatment.

“We’ve developed an instrument of the symptoms that women have,” McSweeney said. “It’s been translated to about 40 different languages.”

Arkansas is now hosting a $1.2 million American Heart Association research project. It’s carried out at UAMS.


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