The month of February isn’t only known for its day of roses and chocolates, but also for its month-long awareness campaign for cardiovascular disease. The entire month is referred to as American Heart Month, and the first Friday of each February is known as National Wear Red Day. This day is part of Go Red for Women, the American Heart Association’s signature women’s initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health. This year the national holiday will land on February 7 with the goal of increasing women’s heart health awareness and serving as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally.

While the term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions, the most prevalent in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects blood flow to the heart. Cardiovascular diseases continue to be one of the biggest threats to a woman’s health in the U.S., as one in four women will die from heart disease. However, nearly eighty percent of cardiac events can be prevented.

In the past, many studies done with the aim of understanding heart disease and stroke have focused on men as their subjects. This distorted method of researching led to many widespread misconceptions about heart health, particularly where women are concerned.

Over the years we have learned that there are many heart disease risk factors that cannot be changed. Some of these include age, sex, race, heredity, and health history. However, there are many factors you can change. High blood pressure, smoking, lack of regular activity, and diabetes are all things you can control or treat with lifestyle changes and your healthcare provider’s help.

Some things you can do to decrease your risk for heart disease and stroke include maintaining a healthy diet, staying active, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol use, and more. It’s important to remember that this is something that has likely impacted all of us in one way or another or will at some point. To learn even more about your risk for heart disease, symptoms that are specific to women, and steps you can take to lead a healthier life, visit Go Red For Women. And don’t forget to wear red and encourage others to do the same this Friday, February 7, in an effort to bring awareness to heart disease and what we can all do to prevent it.

 

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Ciera Kelley
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