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Better Off Red

Better Off Red
By: Greg Root & Kristen Gunther

Next time you find yourself in a room full of women, look to your right. Then look to your left. If left unchecked, there’s a strong possibility that one of you will be diagnosed with heart disease.

Sadly, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease each year making it the number one killer of women age 20 

To put that 1 in 3 ratio in perspective, compare it to the 1 in 30 women that die each year from breast cancer. Even more alarming is the fact that an overwhelming 90% of all women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease. Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet women have not been paying attention. In fact, in the past, heart disease and heart attacks have been predominantly associated with men.

“Shockingly, more women die of heart disease than the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.”

Historically, men have been the primary subject of research done to understand heart disease and stroke, which has resulted in the basis for treatment guidelines and programs. This trend led to an oversimplified, distorted view of heart disease and risk, which has worked to the detriment of women nationwide. In fact, many women dangerously dismissed heart disease as an “old man’s disease” and remained unaware that heart disease was the number one killer of women. Fortunately, in 2004, the American Heart Association said enough is enough and created Go Red for Women, a passionate, socially interactive initiative designed to educate women while empowering them to take charge of their heart health. By encouraging women to know their risk factors and take the appropriate measures to lead a heart-healthy life, the Go Red for Women campaign has the ultimate goal of saving lives and eliminating heart disease.

Heart to Heart

Many of you have probably heard about National Wear Red Day…maybe you even participated this last February. But, the Go Red for Women campaign is much more than a bold fashion statement. National Wear Red Day is always the first Friday of February. In 2012, it will be Friday, February 3rd. 

“In 2010, the American Heart Association set a strategic goal of reducing death and disability from cardiovascular disease and strokes by 20% while improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% by the year 2020″

Here’s how you can get involved:

Take Action..

Consult your doctor if you experience any of these risk factors for heart disease:

  • Existing coronary heart disease (heart attack, bypass surgery, heart stents)
  • Stroke or carotid artery disease (narrowed or blocked arteries that take blood to your brain)
  • Blocked arteries in your legs
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (weakness in the artery in your abdomen)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes

What to avoid…

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of regular physical activity (or can’t complete a treadmill exercise test)
  • Being overweight (Body Mass Index [BMI] 25-29.9) or obesity (BMI higher than 30)


What to be aware of…

  • Family history of heart or vascular disease
  • Blood pressure higher than 120/80
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Heart or other vascular diseases
  • Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Pregnancy complications including the development of high blood pressure or diabetes, delivering a pre-term infant

 Start making these Heart-Healthy Habits part of your lifestyle…

  • Eat well: Include high fiber fruits and veggies, whole grains, fatty fish. Pass the salt. Skip the butter. You know the drill.
  • Be active: Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Up that to 60-90 per day if you are trying to lose weight.
  • Watch the scale: Maintain a healthy body weight to do your heart good.
  • Quit smoking: Not only is smoking so 1980s but it is also a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Visit Your Doctor: Regular checkups with ensure you are keeping your ticker in tip-top shape.

Go Red for Women How YOU can GO RED

  • Participate in National Wear Red Day: Couldn’t be easier to show your support and inspire action than to wear red. National Wear Red Day is always the first Friday of February. In 2012, it will be Friday, February 3rd.
  • Tell 5: Your mom. Your sister. Your best friend. Your daughter. That girl with the perfect hair at work. Telling just five women to visit can make a big impact about spreading awareness of heart disease.
  • Volunteer: Contact your local American Heart Association office to find out how you can get involved with Go Red for Women.
  • Donate: Open your heart and your wallet by making a donation to the American Heart Association.
  • Shop: Indulge in some retail therapy and feel good about it. Visit

We encourage you to visit for more information about heart disease, to learn how you can become involved and to find ways to make your lifestyle heart-healthy.

“Go Red for Women encourages awareness of the issues surrounding women and heart disease.The movement harnesses the energy, passion and power women have to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease. It challenges them to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce those risks. It also gives them the tools to lead a heart healthy life.”


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