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Baltimore Churches Work Together To Combat Heart Disease

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Nationwide, one woman dies every minute from heart disease. It’s a striking statistic that’s causing churches across the city to mark the ninth annual Red Dress Sunday.

Gigi Barnett takes a look at how one congregation is educating women about a silent killer.

When the congregation sang “My Heart Be Lonely,” it was a wake-up call for the members at Douglas Memorial Church in Baltimore. It’s designed to protect them from the number one killer of women: heart disease.

“Cardiovascular disease kills 10 times as many women each year as breast cancer does,” said Dr. Shannon Winakur, a cardiologist at St. Agnes.

It’s why cardiologists like Dr. Winakur are visiting churches this weekend for Red Dress Sunday.

Winakur says Red Dress Sunday is designed to reach women, especially African-American women, who are most susceptible to the disease.

“A lot more African-American women are obese, have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and many of them don’t know that they have these health problems,” Winakur said.

Georgia Chapman didn’t know until last May. When she had a heart attack at work, she thought it was the flu.

“Instead of feeling better after taking a Motrin and a hot tea, I got that warm sensation in my chest and I knew that wasn’t a symptom of anything but a heart attack,” Chapman said.

After emergency surgery, Chapman changed what she ate, started exercising and now warns other women.

“I didn’t have time. I was taking care of everybody else but myself and I realized that if I wanted to live, things had to change,” she said.

To give you an idea of how deadly heart disease is, compare it to breast cancer. Forty thousand women die of breast cancer every year; heart disease kills 200,000 in that same span.

More than 130 churches in Baltimore participated in Red Dress Sunday.

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