The color of February is red. Not for Valentine’s Day (though that is so romantic that you thought that). No, the color of February is red… for women’s heart disease.
The first Friday in February — Feb. 6, 2015 — is National Wear Red Day®. National Wear Red Day is part of The Heart Truth national awareness campaign about heart disease and women.
Wear red to work, wear red to school, wear red to the soccer fields and the basketball courts, wear red to the grocery store and the post office. Wear a red shirt, a red sweater, a red tie, even red socks. Organize a group of women at the office to wear red. Go out to lunch with friends of yours and coordinate your red outfits. Wear red everywhere you go and, when people ask why, tell them it is to raise awareness that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
Yes, you read that right. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
Heart disease is a simple term used to describe several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke. Other types of heart disease include heart failure, an irregular heartbeat — or arrhythmia — and heart valve problems.
Heart disease kills 1 out of 3 women each year – in fact, it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. But it is a largely preventable.
Launched in 2002, National Wear Red Day® is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Wear Red Day is part of The Heart Truth, a national public health program for women about heart disease. This awareness-to-action movement was embraced by millions, including the fashion industry, who share the common goal of better heart health for all women. (For more information on The Heart Truth campaign and National Wear Red Day, visit hearttruth.gov.)
So, what we are talking about is a disease that is largely preventable if women pay attention to our own health risks. That is why it is called an awareness-to-action movement. We start with widespread awareness of the problem. We add in knowledge of general statistics, risk factors, and warning signals. We apply it to ourselves and other close friends and family. Then we act on it.
Awareness that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women has nearly doubled in the last 12 years. However, most women still fail to make the connection between heart disease risk factors and their personal risk of developing the disease. We are in the “action” phase of that awareness-to-action movement.
Every week in February, I will be writing about heart health. We are starting with awareness of the problem. We will add in some knowledge, learn how to apply it to ourselves, and then seek out ways to act on it.
I hope you will join me is making red the color of February. Let’s Go Red for Women all month long. And let’s start with Feb. 6 — I hope to see a wave of red in Newton County on Friday!
Hosanna Fletcher has lived in Newton County since 2005. With a Masters in Public Health and another in Sociology, she has worked on a variety of community development projects, led training sessions for Lay Health Advisors, conducted and evaluated health risk assessments, and designed and implemented employee wellness programs. Hosanna and her husband Kevin, a Newton County native, have been married for 15 years this October. They have two children — Miranda, 11, and Thomas, 3.