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Heart Health: #WomensLives & Go Red For Women

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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 Matters: #WomensLives, Heart Health & Go Red

Heart Matters: #WomensLives, Heart Health & Go Red

General Statistics
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? The 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. According to research on the subject, 1 in 3 women will 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 undiagnosed 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!
READ: Heart Matters: 7 Heart Healthy Tips
National Wear Red Day®: Join The #HeartChat
Heart Matters: National Wear Red Day
Heart Matters: An Interview w/ Dr Gary H Gibbons of NHLBI

“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

Heart Matters: #WomensLives, Heart Health & Go Red

Heart Matters: #WomensLives, Heart Health & Go Red

Heart Matters: #WomensLives, Heart Health & Go Red

Heart Matters: #WomensLives, Heart Health & Go Red

African-American Women
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 DO 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, a spokesperson, and a 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 position to take. Our silence could cost a life because women die from heart disease more often than men. Please speak up and speak out!

More below

“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

Heart Health: National Wear Red Day/Go Red For Women

Heart Health: National Wear Red Day/Go Red For Women

Heart Matters: #WomensLives, Heart Health & Go Red

Heart Matters: #WomensLives, Heart Health & Go Red

Hispanic Women
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

Get Your Numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
Own Your Lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active and eat healthily.
Raise Your Voice: Advocate for more women and related research and education.
Educate Your Family: Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.
Donate: Show your support with a donation of time, creative expression or money

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.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: Heart collage from my Personal Collection,  Red Dress from Go Red,  Across Women’s Lives from PRI & SheKnows, AND  heart by zen via Flickr.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

92 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben Butler permalink
    04/02/2015 2:48 pm

    This is a great post. My grandmother ignored the signs of heart issues, and she ended up have bypass surgery. Never ignore symptoms!

  2. Linda Manns Linneman permalink
    04/02/2015 3:08 pm

    I really appreciate this article. The numbers are staggering. Heart disease runs in my family. I always make sure I get my check ups. Thank you for the information.

  3. 04/02/2015 4:36 pm

    There are a lot of heart issues in my family and I worry every day. Sometimes I am guilty of not following the rules strictly and I really have to …no matter what. Diane Sullivan

  4. pumpkinsfan76 permalink
    04/02/2015 4:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing this and raising awareness. It can happen to anyone, young or old.

  5. oschwab94 permalink
    04/02/2015 4:56 pm

    This is such a great way to create awareness! It’s crazy how many people actually have problems with their heart and don’t realize it yet. It is so important to take the symptoms (if you have them) seriously

  6. Masshole Mommy permalink
    04/02/2015 4:56 pm

    Thanks so much for helping to raise awareness for such an important cause. I will definitely be wearing red to show my support.

  7. oschwab94 permalink
    04/02/2015 4:57 pm

    This is such a great way to create awareness! I’m sure there are a ton of people that have heart problems that don’t even realize it. People also should take their symptoms (if they have them) seriously

  8. 04/02/2015 6:31 pm

    Practicing yoga and being a strict vegetarian are what my dad does. He also quitted smoking a long time ago because he found that he has a weak heart. Also, heart problems run in the family. But strangely enough, only the men (my uncles) have heart problems and not the women.

  9. Catherine S permalink
    04/02/2015 6:48 pm

    What a great and informative post. I will make sure I wear red on Friday.

  10. 04/02/2015 6:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Ujima Magazine.

  11. 04/02/2015 7:03 pm

    A heart attacks is nothing to mess around with. It’s good to know the symptoms. I like how the Go Red for Women campaign helps to raise awareness.

  12. 04/02/2015 7:59 pm

    I love the Go Red program and have always participated. I’ve done some heart walk/runs too that benefit the program.

  13. 04/02/2015 11:04 pm

    I can’t believe that you almost died from heart failure. Wow.

  14. johnberk permalink
    05/02/2015 2:32 am

    Without judging others, I believe that the main cause for the heart disease is the unhealthy food that is being extremely popular nowadays. When you realize that, you can improve your health rather quickly. For me, it has been the yoga practice, vegan food, running, and no alcohol or smoking. I used to have panic attacks with hearh seizures, and as a consequence felt quite depressed. Now I’m feeling great.

    • 08/02/2015 10:10 am

      You have a point bu that wasn’t the cause for my heart condition. I was born with mine. I didn’t write the full story here but one thing I found out after my surgery was that I was very fortunate because people born with my condition don’t live past age 13. Because I grew up in a home with a Mom who was a nutritionist/Gourmet chef, I ate excellent fresh foods. As an adult, I kept up the practice and still do.

  15. 05/02/2015 9:26 am

    Such a great campaign. We make sure to have our annual check-up and so thankful that we’re all in good health. Thank you for this informative post. Didn’t know about the signs, to be honest.

  16. AD46241 permalink
    05/02/2015 9:35 am

    i like that this program is creating such awareness about women and the nature of heart disease which is so common these days.

  17. 05/02/2015 10:05 am

    Thanks for spreading awareness! It is super important!

  18. 05/02/2015 1:52 pm

    A great post Eliz…it is always pertinent to remind people to look out for themselves. Especially women who tend to look out for everyone else first.

  19. 05/02/2015 5:42 pm

    That’s great that they have such a program to educate women about heart disease

  20. 05/02/2015 6:18 pm

    I am very passionate about AHA that I help out whenever I can every year to raise funds and awareness. Thank you for such a wonderful post!

  21. 05/02/2015 7:37 pm

    I’m so glad that you got help when you did and everything was okay. I’m on 2 different heart meds and try to take better care of myself.

  22. Liz Mays permalink
    05/02/2015 7:45 pm

    Heart disease runs in my family so this is a very big concern of mine. It’s not something to ignore1

  23. Debbie Denny permalink
    05/02/2015 7:49 pm

    This is a great program. Awareness is the key.

  24. Lisa Sheldon permalink
    05/02/2015 7:51 pm

    I love the Go Red program. Women need to take care of their hearts at any age.

  25. upliftingfam permalink
    05/02/2015 8:07 pm

    I need to go get a physical soon. I’m kinda worried about the risk of heart disease since I’m not as active as I was years ago.

  26. Mystic_Kitchen permalink
    05/02/2015 8:13 pm

    Heart health is so much more important than people realize! I had two heart surgeries when I was 25 & 26, thankfully they fixed the problem, but I still have health issues.. I try to keep my heart healthy! Thanks for the post!

  27. 05/02/2015 8:16 pm

    Oh my gosh Elizabeth, I never knew any of this about you and I’ve been reading your blog for months! Wow…I’m going to bug my two female cousins (my aunt married an African American male so I have mixed cousins) and ask them if they’ve been checked. We have no history of it in my family, but I didn’t know African American women were at risk like this and I have no idea if it runs in my uncles family!

    I’m so glad you’re better now. I can’t imagine what you went through with this while you were mommy to little ones

  28. 05/02/2015 8:22 pm

    I just wanted to say congratulations to you on being a part of the initiative. What a great way to get in the mix and help spread the word, and contribute to the cause.

  29. 05/02/2015 9:01 pm

    My family has a history of heart issues. One thing I have known since I was young was the signs of a heart attack.

  30. 05/02/2015 10:35 pm

    Being a male who has heart problems and had open heart surgery years ago I know the need for awareness. Thanks for helping people understand heart disease in women. Keep it up.

    • 06/02/2015 11:18 pm

      Thank you so much Bradley for sharing that you are a survivor too. All of our stories can make a difference. <3

  31. 3sonshavei permalink
    05/02/2015 11:59 pm

    For years I was a cardiac surgery scheduler. Heart health is so important-that’s one vital organ we need to care for!

  32. top5life permalink
    06/02/2015 1:15 am

    Such an informative post. It is very useful post for all the people in any age.

  33. Lois Jones permalink
    06/02/2015 1:41 am

    Thanks for the great information and reminder about Friday!!

  34. Masshole Mommy permalink
    06/02/2015 2:20 am

    Thanks so much for bringing awareness to this important cause. I am definitely wearing red to show my support.

  35. John Lopez permalink
    06/02/2015 5:34 am

    Women s very important, my wife and my mother and my daughter I always respect them and full of love. This one is very great.

  36. Dhemz Apdian - Dias permalink
    06/02/2015 5:40 am

    what an inspiring concept and a great awareness!

  37. 06/02/2015 6:12 am

    Great campaign! Thanks for sharing these info. 🙂

  38. 06/02/2015 7:20 am

    I lost my step dad to a heart attack. I am so glad you got the help you needed. This is definitely something that should never be ignored.

  39. barbara langley permalink
    06/02/2015 9:09 am

    I always though cancer was the number one for women. I didnt know this was the number one.

  40. Daniele Holmberg permalink
    06/02/2015 2:51 pm

    Wow! What an intense story. Thank you for sharing! So many people ignore the signs of heart disease and this is a very informative post to make people open their eyes.

  41. 06/02/2015 6:10 pm

    Wow, I had no clue that 1 in 3 women die of heart conditions. Those are very scary statistics.

  42. mythirtyspot permalink
    06/02/2015 9:03 pm

    Love this article. This is so important to talk about and we don’t talk about heart disease in women enough!

  43. 07/02/2015 4:25 am

    This is a good way for bringing awareness. The data are indeed alarming 1 woman killed each minute. Gosh!

  44. papaleng007 permalink
    07/02/2015 4:27 am

    That’s a great way for bringing awareness. Indeed, a very alarming data, 1 woman killed beach minute. Gosh!

  45. 07/02/2015 8:47 am

    It is good to know how awareness about heart disease in women is being created using a special day. Here in India red is the color that girls wear on their wedding day. But heart disease is a big killer here also and we need to do something similar to create awareness…

  46. 07/02/2015 9:40 am

    This is an important campaign and a great post to share and educate the importance of such check up and awareness! Share it and spread the love!

  47. Ronald G permalink
    07/02/2015 10:10 am

    This is advice and directions that everyone can benefit from…as I have seen by the massive heart attack that killed my favorite brother-in-law

  48. Lauren permalink
    07/02/2015 4:00 pm

    I’m glad you made this post for the reasons you’ve already stated. We hear the campaigns for a lot of other, much more rare diseases, but not enough about heart disease. It’s one of the top killers of people in the US, at least. I really think that other people need to be aware of this.

  49. 07/02/2015 5:10 pm

    This reminds me of my girlfriend’s condition. When she had her colon cleansing (my gift to her), she was advised by the doctor to take care of her heart. She’s got a weak heart. But I told her not to magnify the weakness of her heart, instead, magnify the blessings she’s got and it’s still good that she’ aware of her condition and that it helps if she would stay cheerful, and have a dose of enough laugh every day. It helps strengthen her heart. Negativity is a big No for her condition. So she should free herself from stressful thoughts. This is great! Very informative and well its a challenge for me to participate in heart disease awareness activities.

  50. The Trophy WifeStyle permalink
    07/02/2015 8:50 pm

    This is such a great thing to bring awareness too!! I always wear red on this day!

  51. hannizenvato permalink
    08/02/2015 1:28 am

    Such an informative article! I didn’t realize that so many women die from heart failure.

  52. Vanessa permalink
    08/02/2015 5:17 am

    The Go Red Campaign is admirable, moreover, nowadays so many people are under a lot of stress and their heart becomes the victim of too hectic schedule or negative emotions. I believe most of the heart attacks can be prevented if we just slow down and become aware of the danger.

    • 08/02/2015 9:04 am

      Some people are born with a heart defect like me. If I wasn’t diagnosed, I could have passed away in my sleep or even during meditation. Not all heart conditions are stress related.

  53. 08/02/2015 6:00 am

    The general belief is that men are more prone to heart disease but these statistics are staggering! Happy to see that efforts are on to spend awareness about the problem

  54. Fi Ní Neachtáin permalink
    08/02/2015 10:30 am

    There’s a history of heart disease in my family so it’s something I try to avoid as much as I possible. Thanks for raising some more awareness for this.

  55. 08/02/2015 12:32 pm

    Hi Elizabeth – such a great post. I’m just following up on my comment on your BlogHer post to thank you again for contributing this leadership to #womenslives.

    • 09/02/2015 5:12 am

      Thank you Lisa! What a great surprise. I am so touched by your visit and comment.
      I am grateful to be alive and to be able to join the #WomensLives Initiative. 🙂

  56. alissamaghopoy permalink
    08/02/2015 7:02 pm

    I think this is such an amazing campaign. the statistics are getting higher and the age of the patients are getting younger.We should create awareness for this

  57. Fred permalink
    08/02/2015 7:56 pm

    Thank you for sharing your medical history for all of us. This serves to remind all of us how important awareness about heart health is. We cannot take it for granted, whatever the sex and age.

  58. maggiesblog2 permalink
    08/02/2015 7:58 pm

    This is a great little reminder for all of us to be proactive with our health! Thanks for posting!

  59. franckxethee permalink
    08/02/2015 10:01 pm

    My father died of heart attack when he was just 46. It’s really important to detect this early and also people should be more aware of the heart ailments.

    • 09/02/2015 5:00 am

      I’m sorry to hear that. What I learned from my experience is that when there is a history, it is important to get thorough physicals and see a cardiologist once a year.

  60. 08/02/2015 11:51 pm

    The Go Red for Woman is a really great awareness! I’ve supported them before.

  61. 09/02/2015 4:20 am

    I will share this to my mom so she won’t ignore me anymore about heart issues. Thanks for this informative post! 🙂

  62. 09/02/2015 6:04 pm

    It’s very fortunate that you found out about the real condition of your heart and was able to do something about it. I like how the Go Red Initiative encourages women to be more informed abour heart diseases to prevent future difficulties.

  63. Nicol Wong (@yuk_lui) permalink
    10/02/2015 2:19 pm

    such a great read. the heart is something close to me and have been supporting ti

  64. 11/02/2015 2:51 am

    Great awareness post. It’s important to eat healthy and exercise more.

  65. Von Avancena permalink
    11/02/2015 9:53 am

    This is a good read. I think what we lack sometimes is education. Health education is very important to prevent highly preventable diseases with lifestyle modification

  66. Karen permalink
    11/02/2015 10:57 am

    This advocacy campaign for women are worth supporting and sharing. As a woman and mother I wanted to take good care of my heart too

  67. 11/02/2015 11:56 pm

    I’m in full support of AHA’s Go Red for Women Day. I try my best to live a healthy lifestyle and I’m truly shocked by the statistics that more women die from heart disease than any other type. Thanks for supporting this to and help spread awareness!

  68. 18/02/2015 8:29 am

    Reading through this article made me cry because I remembered how I lost my grandmother, who brought me up, from a heart attack. I remembered everything during her last hours. It was painful and until now, it pains us to remember.

    That’s why I’m always encouraging my mom to get her check up because she’s been showing some of the symptoms. It’s just so hard to educate or influence other people towards this awareness because some of them, especially those who are possible to get this illness, are afraid to know they have it.

    I hope this year, when my mom comes for her holidays, I could finally convince her to take a check up.

  69. 19/02/2015 9:40 pm

    Great post. Women empowerment is very important these days.


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