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'Go Red For Women' Day Bringing Heart Health Awareness As Cardiovascular Diseases Continues To Be Leading Cause Of Death

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - You're seeing lots of red this Friday because it's "Go Red for Women," a day to raise awareness about heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for all Americans. Today, the focus is on the ladies.

Cardiovascular disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined but only 44% of women recognize that heart disease is their greatest health threat. One Philadelphia woman is living proof.

"I have heart-shaped necklaces now, I have heart-shaped earrings," heart transplant patient Linda Jara said.

Jara is all about hearts, and thankful for the one that saved her life.

"I was first diagnosed with heart failure on Christmas Eve 2014," she said.

She was just 42 years old, no clue her life would be forever changed.

"So what I was thinking was bloating, it was actually fluid that was building up in my stomach," Jara said.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Among females over the age of 20, nearly 45% are living with some form of cardiovascular disease, and if not well managed, one in three women will die from heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

The warning signs are different from what men experience.

"The symptoms are not often that crushing chest pain that we hear about - it may be more subtle - like shortness of breath, jaw pain, back pain, nausea," Cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum said.

Jara, who lives in Andora, was on the heart transplant list for 19 months.

"Anxiety when sleeping cause you never know when you're going to get a call," she said.

Finally, it came. Jara got her new heart five years ago at Temple Hospital.

"It's definitely a blessing," Jara said.

And a challenge during the pandemic. For Jara, COVID is especially dangerous.

"Every time you walk out the door you're taking your life in your hands," she said.

It's a life she cherishes now knowing heart disease can happen to anyone.

"As my friend said, I was the healthiest person they knew that got sick," Jara said.

Doctors say nearly 80% of cardiac events can be prevented. That's why it's critical to know your numbers; cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

For more information on Go Red Day for women, click here.

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