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Luncheon raises awareness about heart disease in women

NinHunter Nicor Gas gets inspirit giving by waving her donatienvelope for assistants collect Go Red For Women fundraiser aimed combating

Nina Hunter, of Nicor Gas, gets into the spirit of giving by waving her donation envelope for assistants to collect at the Go Red For Women fundraiser, aimed at combating heart disease. The luncheon, filled with women, and a few brave men, was held at the Q Center in St. Charles on Friday, May 18, 2012.

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Updated: July 1, 2012 12:11PM

Dr. Aga Silbert was on her way to the Go Red for Women luncheon in St. Charles Friday when she saw an accident on the side of the road.

The crash didn’t require her services, but it made her think about how many people are injured in such collisions. That, in turn, made her think about her son, a nurse in Afghanistan, and those who have died serving our country. That’s when it hit her: If you added up the numbers of victims from car accidents and wars in a year, and even threw cancer-related deaths into the mix, it still would not equal fatalities from heart disease.

It was not a happy thought for Silbert, a cardiologist and the director of the Women’s Heart Center at Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Elgin.

But then Silbert’s train of thought turned positive. She was heading to this Go Red luncheon at the Q Center, sponsored by the American Heart Association of Kane and DuPage counties, to accept its “Woman of Heart” award — and to speak to a large banquet room filled with mostly women, mostly wearing red, about how they can protect themselves from this number one killer that affects even more women than men.

The point of the annual luncheon is not only to educate women, but to encourage them to spread awareness to coworkers, friends and family that as deadly as heart disease is, it is also preventable.

The statistics offered at the luncheon were sobering, including the fact one in three women will be affected by heart disease. The challenge, Silbert told her audience, is that symptoms in women present themselves differently than those in men. Women are more likely to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain. Instead, they might feel neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; sweating; light-headedness or dizziness or unusual fatigue.

Also of concern, Silbert said, is the fact there is a lack of gender-specific research and insufficient recruitment of women for clinical trials. For example, the affects of aspirin has not even been tested among women.

Later, Silbert was part of a panel that took questions from the audience, where it was revealed high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides tend to have a greater impact on women than on men; as well as anxiety and stress that can greatly affect the heart.

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