In 2003, research revealed that heart disease was by far the No. 1 killer of women (more than all forms of cancers combined). And despite the perception that heart disease is what happens to older men, the reality is that more women die of heart disease than men. To save lives and raise awareness of this serious issue, the American Heart Association launched Go Red For Women. The red dress has become the iconic symbol of the battle against heart disease in women.
The numbers are stark: While 1 of every 30 female deaths is from breast cancer, 1 in 3 is from heart disease. Since Go Red began in 2004, research shows that more than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved thanks to increased awareness. Another encouraging statistic is that 9 of 10 women involved have gone on to make a positive change in their heart health. Based on research, a woman who Goes Red:
- follows an exercise routine
- eats healthier diet
- visits her doctor for cholesterol checks
- and influences others by talking about heart health
Want to join the thousands going red? Take the Go Red Heart CheckUp. It has engaged more than 2 million women to learn their risk of heart disease. In addition to knowing your own heart disease risk factors, raise your own awareness of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. A study, published in Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine (JAMA), found that even though chest pain was the most common symptom of heart attack in both genders, researchers found that one in five women age 55 and younger did not experience chest pain with their heart attack. Plus, women in general were less likely to experience chest pain from heart attack than men. Thank you, Elizabeth Banks, for drawing attention to the warning signs with your witty performance of “Just a little heart attack“. In a TED talk Dr. Merz, director of the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, gives an excellent medical overview and political history of heart disease in women.
And recently, February 2014, President Barack Obama proclaimed February as American Heart Month, and he invited “all Americans to participate in National Wear Red Day on February 7, 2014 … to join me in recognizing and reaffirming our commitment to fighting cardiovascular disease.” Want to do more than just wear red? There are many advocacy opportunities nationally and locally with the American Heart Association’s Go Red Campaign. Or, check out the WISEWOMAN program through the CDC that provides low-income, under-insured or uninsured women with chronic disease risk factor screening, lifestyle programs, and referral services in an effort to prevent cardiovascular disease.