Go Red Helps Turn the Tide in Battling Heart Disease in Women

If you ask the average woman what is the number one killer of women, most will likely say breast cancer. They would be wrong. Only 54 percent of women identify that the number one killer of women is heart disease.

For many years heart disease was viewed as a man’s disease, by both the medical community and the public. However, in 2003 the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) united to create National Wear Red Day, the first Friday of February, during American Heart Month.

The Go Red® focus has yielded many benefits for women, including:

  • Increased awareness of heart disease as a major health problem
  • Legislative action to curb gender disparity in research
  • Support for establishing risk assessment and classification specifically designed for women
  • Support for specific guidelines for prevention and treatment of heart disease in women

What can women do to start the journey to heart health?

Women concerned about their heart health should:

  • Get your blood pressure checked regularly. Having high or poorly controlled blood pressure (hypertension) can result in heart disease. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Get your blood glucose (sugar) checked. Talk to your primary care provider about your fasting blood glucose level. (A simple blood test performed after 8 hours of no food intake.) Having diabetes significantly increases the likelihood of developing heart disease, and uncontrolled diabetes greatly raises the changes of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Quit smoking and moderate drinking.
  • Get your cholesterol checked. Again, a simple fasting blood test is done to determine the levels of cholesterol. Cholesterol is one of the building blocks of plaque, the material that can clog the arteries of the heart and brain and cause heart attacks and stroke.
  • Get exercise regularly. Regular exercise has a positive impact on blood pressure, plaque build-up, and functional capacity of the heart.

A final note: Since the AHA established their Go Red® campaign, millions of women have learned their personal risk of developing heart disease, received information on women and heart disease, and have embarked on a road to better health. And, perhaps more than anything else, women have reaped the benefit of hearing and embracing that heart health is a life-long journey — a journey that should start today.