This year it will kill half a million American women, yet some doctors say too many women still consider heart disease as a man's illness. February is National Heart Awareness month. Hospitals around the country are raising awareness about risk factors, symptoms and lifestyle changes that can keep them healthy.
Francis Wren see inside her heart using a special screen on Monday. Technology makes made clear the concern Wren spent a year trying to ignore. One night last August, her heart problems wouldn't be ignored.
"I felt as though my heart was racing so fast it was gonna jump out of my chest. I felt like I had a gripe around my throat."
Wren ended up at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport for a triple bypass. Her surgeon says it common for women to brush off warning signs like shortness of breath, fatigue, and nausea.
"Women do not think of heart disease as a problem. They think of breast cancer. They think of other things but they don't think of coronary artery disease. An the same time, heart disease is the number one cause of death of American women. Heart disease kills more women every year than all cancers combined," Dr. Heracles Geroyannis said.
Just a few months after her surgery, Francis Wren's husband needed heart surgery too.
Wren said now they both "appreciate every breath that we take and every day. We're just both thankful that we did not have a heart attack."
An awareness pin on her chest is an outward sign of Wren is now following the doctors orders with a better diet, more exercise and telling others to listen to their hearts.
Memorial Hospital is also raising awareness among physicians and encouraging doctors not to dismiss women's complaints as menopause. To take advantage of the hospital's heart healthy screenings visit www.gulfportmemorial.com