BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Heart disease is the number one killer among women nationwide.  In Baltimore, it’s also the leading cause of death for African-American women. 

Gigi Barnett reports the city is teaming up with doctors and churches to target the most likely victims.

Tracking heart disease starts with a screening, but for some women, a trip to the doctor’s office may be out of the question.  That’s why on Red Dress Sunday, hundreds were screened at church.  It’s all part of a push to find women most at risk for the disease and take the screenings to them.

“Every year, there are 1.1 million people who have heart attacks.  Unfortunately, more than half of those are women, so this is of paramount importance,” said Dr. Carlos Ince.

Ince is the chief cardiologist at St. Agnes Hospital.  He’s teamed up with Mt. Pleasant Church in East Baltimore and city leaders this weekend.  The goal is to test as many women as possible and teach them to put themselves first.

“Women often are last on the list to take care of themselves but you have to cut out some time in your day to make yourself the priority,” Ince said.

It’s something Mt. Pleasant Church member Heretta Stanfield already does and she’s even checked her family history.

“I’m very close to my mother, grandparents and aunts so I do know that we don’t have heart disease, which is a good thing,” Stanfield said.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the city, so much so that doctors say it may play a key role in the 20-year lifespan difference between people in the city and the county.

“We can do more with education, with screening and with treatment, so people understand that they can have a better life, they can have a better lifestyle, that the health disparities we’ve had in the past don’t have to be our future,” Ince said.

According to the American Heart Association, women who get tested for heart disease are also more likely to exercise more and change their diets.

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