WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Ladies, listen up. The number one killer of women is on the loose, and the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation's Red Dress Project looks to bring it to justice.
"The first week in November I had an episode at home, and it really got my attention, because women tend to ignore a lot of symptoms, and I think we multitask so much that we just ignore things," heart patient Jean Cherry said.
Cherry says heart disease runs in her family. She had her first episode 15 years ago, but in November, her worst fears were realized once again.
"I had some back pain when I arrived home, and I put that to the side," she said. "Then I was reading the newspaper and my arm began to throb, and I massaged it saying, 'I wonder what's wrong with it.' Just massaged it out. And then I thought - something happened in the chair where I thought I was going to pass out. It was a very uncomfortable feeling, and I thought, 'I'm going to die here.'"
Cherry was having a heart attack, and she almost did not seek treatment, because her symptoms did not present like a normal attack.
"Women in the community need to be educated to know that when they are having symptoms that are just sort of vague," cardiologist Dr. Trip Meine said. "Shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, pain in the back, a vague pressure in the chest that that can be a heart attack."
Friday the 8th Annual Red Dress Luncheon and Accessories Show will raise money to help women learn the signs and symptoms of heart disease, get screened and take steps to keep their heart healthy.
"The focus is on women, and the focus is on heart disease," Cherry said. "And the focus is on how we can do to eradicate it."
Cherry says the most important thing for women to remember is to never ignore warning signs that come in groups.
Last year's Red Dress Luncheon raised more than $30,000. Proceeds go toward communitywide cholesterol screenings, cardiac disease risk assessments and educational materials for women.
For more information on the Red Dress Luncheon, visit nhrmc.org/reddress