Among the leading health issues, most people automatically think of breast cancer as the No. 1 killer for women.

But according to Ahwatukee Foothills physician Dr. Rick Swearingen, as well as recent studies, heart disease has not only taken the No. 1 spot as the leading causes of death in men, but also for women.

“It’s mind-boggling that about one in three women will die of heart disease,” said Swearingen of the statistics.

Swearingen, of Ahwatukee Urgent Care, said he often has to check for heart risks in women ages 35 to 50, though he doesn’t believe the amount of women being diagnosed is increasing, but rather an awareness of the disease is increasing.

“Even some physicians didn’t recognize the importance of screening women in recent years,” he said.

In honor of February being recognized as American Heart Month, Swearingen recommends a sort of “simple” set of tips to keep heart healthy, which include no smoking, a healthy diet, exercise, good sleep, and reducing stress.

“I think it really is that simple, we can’t change our genetics but there are some of these cornerstones that help,” Swearingen said.

Nearby Ahwatukee businesses and other medical offices celebrated Friday in honor of heart health awareness. Mimi’s Cafe on Ray Road offered a free helping of its signature soup for those who came in wearing red. In conjunction with the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement, guests can donate throughout the month, with a $1 donation resulting in a heart-shaped tribute card to display in the restaurant. A $5 donation comes with a limited-edition red dress lapel pin, with 100 percent of all donations going directly to the American Heart Association.

Meanwhile, the dental office staff of Desert Shores Dentistry decked out in red on Feb. 1 for heart health awareness.

Swearingen said one preventative measure is equally as important as another when it comes to protecting your heart.

“You have to see your doctor routinely,” he said. “People have busy lives, and I know it’s hard, but even I try to take my own advice.”

For more information about the American Heart Association and women’s heart health, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow on Twitter: @_dianamartinez.

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