It’s National Wear Red Day, when the American Heart Association encourages the wearing of red to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease in women. The association says less than half of women recognize that heart disease is the number one killer of females.

48-year-old Dina Pinelli from Long Island, New York, is thankful to be alive after a massive health scare in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. “To have three heart attacks in 12 days, I can’t even really comprehend it,” she says. “Even two and a half years later, it’s mind blowing, and life changing and makes everything different.” Pinelli credits her rescue dog Ananda for alerting her to the first heart attack while she was sleeping. But her symptoms, which she considered unusual, did not immediately bring her to the emergency room. “My wrists just ached,” she says. “Then I had pain in my back, pain in my chest. I couldn’t move.”

NYU Langone cardiologist Dr. Harmony Reynolds says it’s vital women seek help for all types of possible symptoms of cardiovascular problems, given that heart disease leads to more deaths than all forms of cancer combined. The heart association says life events, including pregnancy and menopause, and stress, can impact cardiac health. Dr. Reynolds says: “It’s scary to think, ‘could this be a heart attack?’ I think that people don’t go to the hospital because they’re afraid that it might be a heart attack and then what? Well then what is, we treat it.”

Pinelli was treated with two stents and now takes several drugs. She’s one of this year’s Go Red for Women Class of Real Women Survivors. “We have to really be mindful of our bodies,” she says. No one knows our bodies better than us.” Pinelli is back to active exercising after her heart attacks, her trusty pet, always close by her side.