Putting the Focus on Heart Disease
< Feb. 02, 2011 > -- Get your red dress, shirt, or scarf ready. Friday is National Wear Red Day to help raise awareness of heart disease in women.
It's been an annual event since 2004, when the American Heart Association (AHA) decided that women needed to realize the threat that heart disease poses for them. It's not just an "older man's disease," but one that claims the lives of a half million women each year.
Among the figures cited by the AHA:
And certain ethnic groups are hit harder than others:
The AHA's goal? To reduce the number of deaths and cases of disability from cardiovascular disease and stroke in women by 20 percent - by 2020. The organization also hopes to improve women's heart health by 20 percent in the same time period.
Risk for women
Many women incorrectly believe that heart disease - and heart attacks and stroke - affect only men. It's not hard to see why. The AHA says that men have long been the subjects of the research done on heart disease and stroke, and guidelines for treatment and prevention have been aimed at them. This has led to an oversimplified, distorted view of heart disease and risk, which has worked to the detriment of women, the AHA says.
The risk for heart attack and stroke in women increases with age, especially after menopause. But atherosclerosis, the condition in which plaque - thick, hard cholesterol deposits - forms in artery walls, starts in your teens and 20s. That's why it's important to start protecting yourself from heart disease early.
Why the color red? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute first used a red dress as a national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2003. The AHA also began using the symbol, incorporating the dress into its program Go Red for Women.
For more information on health and wellness, please visit health information modules on this website.
A Healthy Heart Plan
As a woman, you can do a lot to reduce your reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Here are some ideas:
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.
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