Congenital heart defects are conditions present at birth that affect how a baby's heart is made and the way it works. They are the most common type of birth defects.

The cause of most congenital heart defects is unknown. Some babies have heart defects because of changes in their genes or chromosomes. They also might be caused by a mix of genes and other risk factors. Women who are obese, have diabetes, or smoke during pregnancy increase their chances of having a baby born with a heart defect. A woman can take some important steps before and during pregnancy to help prevent congenital heart defects. She can work to get to and stay at a healthy weight, control diagnosed diabetes, quit smoking, and take folic acid daily. These actions can reduce the risk of having a baby with a congenital heart defect.

 

   

The Go Red For Women movement was founded by the American Heart Association as a strategy that encourages awareness of the issue of women and heart disease, and also an action to save more lives. The movement harnesses the energy, passion and power women have to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease. It  challenges them to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk. It also gives them the tools they need to lead a heart  health life. In Zimbabwe, we are yet to host such a campaign.

Why have a campaign just for women?

Historically, men have been the subjects of the research done to understand heart disease and stroke, which has been the basis for treatment guidelines and programs. This led to an oversimplified, distorted view of heart disease and risk, which has worked to the detriment of women. Women have been largely ignored as a specific group, their awareness of their risk of this often-preventable disease has suffered. The Go Red For Women movement works to make sure women know they are at risk so they can take action to protect their health.

Women dominate a greater percentage in world population, in Zimbabwe women dominate 52% of the country's population. Given the platform, our women can win the fight against the world's foremost disease.

We need women from all spheres of life to partner with us in this cause.

Women are affected equally to men, but they die more than their male counterparts. While some women have no symptoms, others experience angina (dull, heavy to sharp chest pain or discomfort), pain in the neck, jaw, throat or pain in the upper abdomen or back. These may occur during rest, begin during physical activity, or be triggered by mental stress.
Sometimes heart disease may be silent and not diagnosed until a woman experiences a heart attack, heart failure, an arrhythmia or stroke. The symptoms may include chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath, fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations), shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen, sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move) or numbness of the face/arms/legs, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include: confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness, or sudden and severe headache.