Local 6 Today takes part in National Wear Red Day for women's heart disease

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Web Editor - Ryan Burkett

Today is National Wear Red Day, a day sponsored by the American Heart Association to raise awareness for women's heart disease.

The day began 10 years ago to raise awareness about heart disease, which is the top killer of women in America, killing hundreds of thousands each year.

There are several things all women should know about heart disease:

First, all women should be diligent about checking their cholesterol. It's a fat-like substance that can build in the inner walls of your arteries over time and turn into plaque, which reduces blood flow and can cause blood clots, heart attacks or stroke.

There are two types of cholesterol: LDL, which can clog your arteries and is bad; and HDL, which removes excess plaque from your arteries and is considered good.

High blood pressure also remains a silent killer. It carries no symptoms and can put you at greater risk for heart disease. It's a condition that makes the heart work harder than normal, and if left untreated it can scar and damage your arteries.

A normal blood pressure for women age 20 and over is less than 120 systolic (the top number) and less than 80 diastolic (the bottom number).

If you smoke, you're likely aware that you're not doing your body any favors, but you're also putting your heart at risk. Women who smoke have a 25 percent higher risk of developing heart disease than men who smoke. Nicotine makes your heart rate and blood pressure skyrocket, damaging blood vessels and decreasing good cholesterol.

If you carry around excess weight, you are at risk of straining your heart and raising your blood pressure. The body needs fat to survive, but the risk of heart disease goes up with too much fat. The good news: losing as few as 10 pounds can lower that risk.

As many as six million adults in the U.S. might have diabetes and not even know it. But those with the disease are up to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without it.

It's possible for the symptoms of diabetes to to unnoticed for years, so you should be familiar with the warning signs. They include: high blood pressure; high cholesterol; African American, Asian American or Native American descent; and a history of gestational diabetes.

Check out the video for more information on National Wear Red Day.

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