SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – 22News proudly participated in National Go Red for Women Day to raise awareness of women’s heart health.

“54 percent of women in general are not aware that they’re at risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Baystate Medical Center Noninvasive Cardiologist Dr. Heba Wassif. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. The key to prevention is awareness. That’s the goal of National Go Red for Women Day.

Dr. Wassif said while men usually experience severe pain in the chest during a heart attack, women may instead experience shortness of breath, nausea, pain in the neck, back, throat or stomach. She added, “If the woman starts noticing that the pain is mostly associated with exertion, like you start walking, you feel these symptoms and then they go away when you rest, that should raise red flags.”

Risk factors between men and women are similar: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes. However, women who had preeclampsia during pregnancy or who have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are also at higher risk for heart disease, according to Dr. Wassif.

Once someone has had a heart attack, they’re more at risk of depression, which can lead to unhealthy behaviors and further heart problems. That’s why places like the Baystate cardiac wellness and rehab center in Springfield exist.

Miriam Mateo said it’s nice to know she’s not alone in living with a heart condition. She never thought she’d be raising awareness about this issue she now experiences.

“I’m in and I’m all for it and giving people advice as to how they can take care of themselves so they won’t find themselves in the same position,” Mateo told 22News. She had some simple, but life-saving advice: “Stay healthy and active. Stay working out.”