Wear red for awareness

Do you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women? That one American dies from cardiovascular disease every 40 seconds? One woman dies about every 80 seconds. What effect does this loss have on American families? What can everyone do to reduce the number of deaths due to heart disease?

The American Heart Association advises that 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with education and action. Awareness of the issue is heightened on Feb. 2, National Wear Red Day.

In 2004, the American Heart Association realized that nobody took seriously the threat of cardiovascular disease to American women. Nearly 500,000 women annually died from heart disease. But everyone pretty much still thought of heart disease as an “old man’s disease.” To raise awareness of heart disease and stroke as the #1 killer of women, the Go Red for Women campaign began with the goal of empowering women to take charge of their heart health. Change begins with awareness. The AHA set a goal to reduce the number of deaths and disabilities due to heart disease and stroke. By 2020, the AHA wants to improve the heart health of all Americans by 20 percent.

The plan is that women visit their health care providers for important tests and making sure that they are following an exercise program that is good for them. Healthy diet and nutrition are high priority and they share their knowledge of heart disease and what can be done to lower the risks with other women. The best advertising is said to be word of mouth.

Cardiovascular disease risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess weight, poor diet, smoking and diabetes. These are preventable with knowledge and action. There isn’t much you can do about things like heredity, medical history, age, gender or race which do affect your well being. Also affecting heart health are things like stress, education level, income and insurance status.

Do you know the warning signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest?

A heart attack is signaled by chest discomfort that lasts longer than a few minutes. It may come and go. It also can be a pain, feeling of fullness, squeezing or an uncomfortable pressure. The person may have shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea and lightheadedness. There could be pain in other areas of the upper body.

For stroke, quick response is needed. Does the person’s face droop? Can they hold up their arms or does one drift downward? When they talk, is speech slurred, or difficult to understand? Maybe they can’t speak at all. The AHA recommends asking them to repeat a simple sentence such as “The sky is blue.”

A cardiac arrest occurs with “a sudden loss of responsiveness.” When you tap the shoulder and they do not respond or you don’t detect normal breathing for at least five seconds, get help immediately.

Since the first National Wear Red Day, there have been a number of changes. Women are making healthier choices, losing weight, exercising more, maintaining healthier diet and monitoring their cholesterol levels. They talk to their doctors about their heart health plans and as a result of all of these changes, fewer women are dying from heart disease, advises the AHA. And work continues for awareness and better quality of life. Women are helping women to make healthy changes.

There’s still time to decide what you will wear on Friday. Be a Lady in Red and join in for National Wear Red Day. Now you know what it’s about, celebrate life.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by Ohio Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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