Heart Health: #WomensLives & Go Red For Women
The Go Red for Women campaign raises awareness of the risk of heart disease. I think a lot of people don’t realize that heart disease is the number one killer of women… Cheryl Hines
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood.
While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
Women comprise only 24 percent of participants in all heart-related studies.
This Friday, February 6th is National Wear Red Day. How is your heart health? Do you know anyone who has had a heart attack or suffers from heart disease? Do you know anyone who suddenly passed away from an attack? I do, and I almost did. Since 1984, more women than men have died from heart disease and stroke. Whether we choose to take care of our health or stay in denial, the fact is that each of us will be impacted by heart matters; it could happen to a friend, a family member or us.
In 1999, my life took an unusual turn I never expected. I was a young mother of 5-year-old twin girls, living in Westchester and teaching at Hunter College in NYC. I had always exercised, had quit smoking many, many years before; plus, I was a yoga/meditation enthusiast and a vegetarian. So why was I feeling breathless and out of sorts? Why was I having more irregular heartbeats? Was it anxiety attacks or work stress? Was I imagining all of this? Fact is that I wasn’t experiencing any work related stress but, I was trying to find answers to help me understand what was going on.
What were the signs? Initially, I ignored the dizzy spells and shortness of breath and put it down to classroom stresses. I needed a reason but in retrospect, I wasn’t dealing with any stress at work. As time went by, I felt tired walking up the staircase in my home and so I paid a visit to my doctor and got checked out. The focus was not on my heart, as I did not think I “fit” the typical profile of a candidate for heart failure. Even though there was a family history of heart disease – my dad died suddenly of an attack and my mom had a massive stroke and never recovered fully; I believed that because I lived a healthy lifestyle, I was not a classic case study for heart failure. The tests didn’t show anything major but, I continued to feel out of sorts. My doctor persisted with more tests and nothing unusual showed up. I continued to feel fatigued and, eventually, I was sent to a cardiologist. The cardiologist ran even more tests and finally decided to send me to another specialist.
By November, I was referred to a children’s heart specialist and he diagnosed heart failure. I needed Open Heart surgery right away. I found out I was born with a congenital heart defect and had a rip/hole in my heart. One of my valves needed replacing, and it was possible that I might need a pacemaker. My surgery was successful. Fortunately for me, I can say … I am a survivor. But many other women we know haven’t been so fortunate. 1 in 3 women die of heart conditions. Don’t become a statistic. An important point I want to address is that not all heart issues are stress related. Some people are born with un-diagnosed heart conditions and, unless you are attentive to how you feel and persist in getting medical help, you might never find out. GET CHECKED OUT!
So what we’re doing is encouraging women to tell five other women to learn more about heart disease and how they can prevent it. Cheryl Hines
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for African American women.
Of African American women ages 20 and older, 46.9 percent have cardiovascular disease
Only 1 in 5 African American women thinks she is personally at risk.
Nearly 50 percent of African American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
Only 43 percent of African American know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.
These statistics represent only a fraction of the 2012 report featured in Circulation. To view the full findings, download a copy of the Heart Disease and Stroke 2012 Statistical Update
What does a survivor or a heart patient look like? Survivors look like you, me, everyone out there; they are us. As a community, we must sound the alarm and encourage our grandmas, moms, and daughters to live healthier lives and get regular check ups. The Go Red Initiative reminds us every year to take care of our hearts and spread the word. Additionally, Public Radio International (PRI) and SheKnows Media, BlogHer’s parent company, have announced a groundbreaking journalism project – #womenslives – to encourage us all to initiate dialogue and contribute stories about women’s rights, health, education, wealth, economic development and other important issues. Why? Because women’s lives matter. Our stories matter! With only 24% of women’s issues covered in the media, we need to have more conversations about critical subjects that affect us all. With our voices and our blogs, we can make a difference. Learn more by reading about this powerful project: #womenslives
What are you doing to protect yourself and your family? Often people ask how they can make a difference. Start where you are and do what is feasible. Educate yourself and loved ones about heart matters. Get check ups and don’t brush off any uneasy feelings or symptoms. For several years, I have been a volunteer, spokesperson one year, and supporter of the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women group in my area. I helped raise money, donated to the cause and, whenever possible, I spoke about my personal experience. Now I’m excited to be a blog partner with Public Radio International (PRI) and SheKnows Media on the #womenslives initiative. When I started blogging, I used this medium to spread the word and I will continue to do so. We owe it to ourselves to make sure we do everything to stay healthy because our lives matter. Why is it that 1 in 3 Women die of heart failure and yet most of us don’t talk about it? Instead, we treat it like a big secret. No one is immune from heart disease; treating it like something that happens to other people is a dangerous stand to take. Our silence could cost a life because women die from heart disease more often than men. Please speak up and speak out!
I’m giving life lessons and tips on how to take care of your emotional heart, because heart disease is the number-one killer in America. Leeza Gibbons
Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.
Only 1 in 3 Hispanic women are aware that heart disease is their No. 1 killer.
Only 3 in 10 Hispanic women say they have been informed that they are at a higher risk.
Only 1 in 4 Hispanic women is aware of treatment options.
Hispanic women are more likely to take preventive actions for their family when it comes to heart health.
What can we do about it? We must make sure to reduce stress in our lives and get check ups regularly. We can donate or volunteer our time and participate in local events that raise awareness about heart disease. We can partner with Public Radio International (PRI) and SheKnows Media on the #womenslives initiative by spreading the word. As with all diseases on the national front, we can reach out to our elected officials to make sure they support funding equitable resources for us all. According to the Go Red for Women Campaign, you must
What are you waiting for? Get your heart health in order and share your thoughts with the world. This has also been posted on my BlogHer page in support of their #WomensLives Initiative.
For More: Women’s Lives & Issues
Positive Motivation Tip: The heart is the center of all we do. Take care of yours and make sure your family does too.