Mujeres Raises Awareness about Heart Attacks for At-risk Latinas

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthWhen Maria Gonzalez woke up with heart palpitations, she thought she was having a heart attack. Her mind immediately went to a poster she had seen about heart attacks. She recognized the symptoms and called an ambulance. One woman in the United States suffers a heart attack every 90 seconds, and heart disease causes one third of all Latina deaths. Now, hundreds of Latinas are learning how to recognize the symptoms of heart attacks through the Haga la llamada, no pierda tiempo Campaign. The Haga la llamada Campaign educates and empowers Spanish-speaking women to save their own lives by calling 911and to teach bystanders to act to save the lives of their mothers, sisters, and friends. Fortunately for Maria, she was not suffering a heart attack, but had a serious heart murmur that she now treats with medicine. Maria Gonzalez is the Lead Promotora at Ventanillas de Salud, a program run in conjunction between the Mexican Consulate and Mujeres Latinas en Acción that provides health services for Mexicans living in the United States.

When she heard about the Haga la llamada Campaign, she signed up to empower women to learn about the symptoms of heart attacks and to call 911. “Many women see the statistics about heart attacks and think ‘that isn’t going to happen to me.’ I tell them about my experience and make sure they get the information they need,” said Maria.

The need for heart attack awareness among Latinas is great. Fewer than half of Latina women age 55 and over, who were surveyed by the American Heart Association in 2006 and 2009, recognized the typical heart attack symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms. Less than 15 percent of Latina women in this age group recognized the atypical heart attack symptoms of nausea, vomiting or unusual fatigue (which may be present for days).

To raise awareness about the Haga la llamada Campaign, Mexican Consul General Eduardo Arnal Palomera joined with Mujeres President and CEO Maria S. Pesqueira to speak about the need for this campaign within Chicago’s Latino community. Maria Pesqueira opened the conference by emphasizing the need for a program like Haga la llamada: “Heart attacks can strike our mothers, our abuelas, and our daughters. We must educate our families and friends about the symptoms of heart attacks to save the lives of the people we love.” Consul General Palomera stressed the importance of the campaign “The Consulate joins efforts with Mujeres Latinas en Acción in all the activities that help our Latina community have a better quality of life. In particular, Haga la llamada, focused on Latinas, is of vital importance to our families in general.” Maria Gonzalez, now one of the Campaign’s most vocal supporters, came to the stand to tell her story and to encourage others to spread the word about the symptoms of heart attacks.

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