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LISTEN TO YOUR HEART: Free event to shed light on women’s heart health

It’s the body’s most vital organ, and caring for one’s heart health is critical to living a happy and productive life. Focusing on that often neglected piece of health, and raising awareness of heart disease in women, is the focus of a special event this weekend.

From 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Zing Life Services will host its “100 Women in Red” event at Fairfield Inn and Suites in Washington. Bringing together healthcare vendors and services under one roof, ZLS founder NyKedtra Brown hopes to shine a light on heart health for men and women alike.

“Because February is Heart Health Month and because we know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women alike in the United States, we wanted to do a program that highlights heart health,” Brown said. “Women are actually more affected than men.”

In the United States, Brown said heart disease kills 1 in 3 women, and 90 percent of all women have some type of risk factor. In many cases, the symptoms of the disease can go unnoticed until urgent action is needed.

“What makes them more likely to die is because their signs are a little less classic,” Brown said. “Men tend to have classic signs like chest pains or being short of breath. Women’s signs may be less classic. They may just have some discomfort in their left shoulder or think it’s just muscle pain from doing something else. … Most of the time they will put those symptoms on something else they have done in life, so when they actually go to get it checked out, it’s past the point where they can get intervention.”

The event will include health resources, food and free health screenings courtesy of Vidant Health. While the event is free, registration is encouraged at www.zinglifeservices.com/events. Attendees are encouraged to wear red during the event.

“I have a firm belief that everybody needs to know about their health,” Brown said. “We want to put the pieces out in front of people and break it down where they can understand. … I want everybody to feel important, that they have a say in their health and that they can make a change if they want to.”

Founded in 2014, Zing Life Services is a nonprofit organization dedicated to decreasing health disparities in rural North Carolina communities through education and services such as first aid and CPR trainings. The nonprofit’s founder, NyKedtra M. Brown, is a native of Aurora and a family nurse practitioner.