The Times West Virginian

Opinion

February 7, 2014

National Wear Red Day reminder that heart disease is No. 1 killer of women

You’ll probably be seeing a lot of red today.

The color will be on posters and flyers displayed in offices.

Buildings and landmarks across the country will be illuminated with red spotlights.

Maybe you’ll even be wearing red yourself, and for good reason.

Today is National Wear Red Day, and it’s the 11th anniversary of the event aimed at raising awareness about heart disease and the fact that it’s the No. 1 killer of women.

A little more than a decade ago, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute saw the need to take action against heart disease, which at that time was claiming the lives of nearly 500,000 American women every year. Health leaders also knew it was a disease women weren’t paying attention to, so they launched National Wear Red Day.

Held on the first Friday in February every year, the goal is to raise awareness about heart disease and let women know that it causes one in three deaths each year, or approximately one woman every minute.

Today, just like they have for the past several years, people will mark the day by wearing red in support of women with heart disease. They’ll organize fundraisers. They might even paint entire neighborhoods red, all in an effort to increase awareness.

And those efforts are working.

The American Heart Association says since National Wear Red Day started in 2003, 34 percent fewer women are dying from heart disease, 23 percent more women are aware that heart disease is their No. 1 health threat, and there has been more publishing of gender-specific results as well as women-specific guidelines for prevention and treatment of the disease.

Funding raised from National Wear Red Day activities today will be used not only to support awareness, education and community programs to benefit women, but the money will also support research to discover scientific knowledge about heart health.

The work can’t stop there, and there is plenty that women can do to establish a healthier lifestyle. That means checking cholesterol levels, improving diets, exercising more and developing a personalized heart health plan with a physician.

That’s where it starts. Knowing the risks — having a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight are just a couple — is the first step toward improving heart health. The good news? Modest changes can help lower the risk of developing heart disease by as much as 80 percent.

So while today is a day devoted to wearing red, healthy habits and better lifestyle choices can be practiced all year long. Taking even a few small steps can help pave the way toward a longer, healthier life.

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