The Heart of Queens

Last Friday was “National Wear Red Day for Women,” part of “Women’s Heart Awareness Month.” Throughout February there’s: “Go Red for Women,” part of “America’s Go Red Challenge” and the “Red Dress Event” a designer fashion show, supporting women’s heart health. Guys? Looks like we’re on our own.

There are nearly one million heart attacks in this country every year. Only about 400,000 of them happen inside a female chest. So why the feminine slant?

I hate to think it’s because we’re expendable… Get out of high school, college, and work for 30 years, 40. Then keel over at our desk in a crumpled heap, completely unaware of our hearts the whole time because no one gave us a month. Thank you for your service, now slide over we need the chair. Next!

Guys have hearts. Their hearts need awareness. I’m aware of my heart, very aware… I check my pulse six, seven times a day.

But don’t tell that to the “National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.”

Or “The Heart Truth.”

Or the folks who run the Red Dress Store — where you can buy lapel pins shaped like little red dresses, earrings shaped like little red dresses, red dress rhinestone brooches, and many, many more items shaped like dresses.

Or Elizabeth Banks starring in “Just A Little Heart Attack” a wacky on-line video about a 21st century woman who ignores her heart attack symptoms until it’s almost too late!

Or Barbra Streisand who’s raising 10 million dollars for a Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in LA. Imagine that… An entire institute devoted to just that one particular gender’s very specific organ. What chance does a guy have with Babs on the other side?

Why all the focus on women’s vital organs? Because guys are doomed anyway? We’d never give up our double cheese bacon burgers, so why bother? Or is it simply because no one wants to see a bunch of fat dudes, National Wear Red Day t-shirts stretched across their beer guts, chatting with Andy Avalos outside Channel 5 at 6 in the morning? Females just make for a better photo op.

Dr. Joseph Marek of Midwest Heart Specialists puts it this way: “My patients come to me with a mixture of risks: high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure,” he told me. “Men and women— cardio vascular disease is an equal opportunity employer.”

Dr. Marek was Chief Resident at the renowned Cleveland Clinic Hospital early in his career and a Chief Fellow at Loyola Hospital near Chicago. He’s also been my cardiologist for the last four years since my bypass and he’s a really nice guy.

Dr. Marek emphasizes the importance of preventing that first heart attack because, as he puts it: “almost a third of men and women with advanced cardio vascular disease never get a second chance.”

There are no boy hearts or girl hearts. A heart’s a heart. Be aware of yours.

And, Happy Valentine’s Day…!

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