ABILENE, Texas -

February is heart health awareness month and Hendrick Medical Center is taking the opportunity to educate people and provide free cardiac screenings Tuesday afternoon.

Though “A Day to Take Heart” is open to men and women of all ages, Tuesday’s session will take a close look at how heart disease uniquely affects women.

“Heart disease has always been identified as a man’s disease,” Nurse Toni Goodson, R.N. said.

Goodson said women do not always exhibit the typical symptoms of a heart attack that men do and the lack of education on the difference makes it more difficult for women to identify the problem. That is why Dr. Ralph McCleskey, M.D. will speak about the issue Tuesday.

“Women don't necessarily have that typical crushing chest pain when they're having a heart attack and a lot of times they have upper abdominal pain, back pain, very vague symptoms that could be written off as something else,” Goodson said.

Goodson said it is vital people of all ages take heart disease and stroke seriously.

“Heart disease and stroke do not have an age,” Goodson said. “We see people from early, early twenties all the way up into their eighties and nineties, so everybody should be aware of what their risk factors are and have their screenings done so they know how their health is.”

Risk factors include poor diet, not enough exercise and a family history of heart disease.

“A Day to Take Heart” participants will receive free cardiac screenings that include blood pressure, body mass index, carotid artery assessments, cholesterol, diabetes and pulmonary function tests. The first 100 participants will receive free EKGs. Registered nurses will also be available for consultation. 

The event is from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday with Dr. McCleskey’s speech at 6 p.m. It will be held in the Auxiliary Conference Center located at 2000 Pine St. in the Shelton Building on the Hendrick Medical Center campus.

For more information, call (325) 670-6895.