Friday is Wear Red Day to help promote awareness about heart disease among women. But many Americans don't need a day or color to remind them about the impact of heart disease.
Not only has Bonnie Kooima had two triple bypass surgeries, her grandfather died at the age of 36 from a heart attack. Her father and sister died at ages 67 and 58, also from heart attacks. That's why Wear Red Day has a special meaning for her.
"I have a daughter and three granddaughters. I also have a grandson. But I care about them and I try to get them to eat right, to exercise, not smoke, all the things you can do to avoid heart disease," Kooima said.
Kooima had her first heart surgery at just 33-years-old. She went to the doctor after having chest pressure and an achy left arm. Then just a year-and-a-half ago, Kooima was dealing with shortness of breath. Doctors told her the heart blockage had returned and she underwent surgery again. Kooima says she would not be here today if she hadn't recognized the symptoms.
"If you have an achy arm or ache in your neck or even indigestion, we take a couple Aspirin and we keep going. And if you pay attention to those things, you can go in," Kooima said.
While Kooima did have symptoms, more than 60 percent of women who die suddenly from coronary heart disease do not have them. To learn more about the symptoms, visit the Go Red For Women website
To learn more about heart disease, have a heart and vascular screening done and talk with others who have been impacted by the disease, attend the Sioux Falls CONNECT event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Macy's Court in the Empire Mall.
Women are more likely to die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. Still most women don't believe that heart disease is their greatest health threat. That's why people from all walks of life are raising awareness.