HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Today is National Wear Red Day! It is the American Heart Association’s biggest awareness day of the year.

Friday, February 3, the organization is making sure people know heart disease is the number 1 killer of women (and men) in the United States.

Michelle Lewzader, Gala Director for the Huntsville and Shoals American Heart Association, says the signs of a heart attack can be more subtle for women than for men.

“Women may have jaw tightness, or back pain even, or nausea,” she said. “You have to take your warning signs seriously and don’t be embarrassed to go to the doctor.” 

The Huntsville and Shoals American Heart Association is also encouraging people to take charge of their heart health. February is heart month. The theme of the month is Be the Beat, which emphasizes that importance of lifesaving CPR. 

The association says it’s important for at least one member of each family to know how to perform CPR. When someone has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately receiving CPR. 

The organization has CPR teaching kits that they are working to get into the hands of schools and companies in the area. Lewzader explains what is inside the kit.

“It has a mini mannequin, and then we blow it up. We have wipes, then we have the instructions. Also, it normally has a DVD in there to show you how to use it,” Lewzader said.

Volunteer Katija McKinney says when people give CPR, they can use the beat of the song ‘Staying Alive’ as a guide for timing compressions.

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned from the CPR training is 100 beats,” McKinney explained. “100 compressions while you’re attempting to conduct CPR on someone. Something to think about is singing the song ‘Staying Alive’.”

According to the AHA, Black and Hispanic people are less likely to receive bystander CPR. Women are also less likely to receive CPR due to people being afraid of being accused of inappropriate touching or injuring the person. The AHA says the Good Samaritan Law protects people who perform CPR during cardiac arrest.

People can learn how to perform Hands-Only CPR on the American Heart Association’s website.

There are multiple fundraisers for the Huntsville and Shoals American Heart Association coming up in the next few months.

The Heart Walk is coming up on May 13 in downtown Huntsville. The Heart Ball is on April 1 at The Westin. The event is already sold out.