February is American Heart Month. In 2004, Go Red for Women was established through a collaboration between the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the American Heart Association (AHA), and other organisations to promote awareness about the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, especially in women.
A red dress was the first symbol used for the campaign. It has now diversified into wearing anything or everything red to show your support.
Heart disease and stroke are the #1 cause of deaths worldwide.
And while most people might not be aware of it, heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, causing more than two million premature deaths worldwide and more deaths than all cancers, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.
Much of the research about heart disease has studied men and so recommendations for recognizing heart attacks and the effects of heart disease are based on how it typically presents in a man. So the image of a man clutching his chest or having pain in his left arm is usually what comes to mind.
These symptoms also occur in women but women are more likely to have other symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:
Heart disease has also been shown to have a strong link to pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. with symptoms of a cardiovascular issue often being missed.
A new study shows that these symptoms not only get missed by women as being a sign of heart disease but also by healthcare professionals diagnosing them. This leads to delayed diagnosis and care because of the assumption that heart disease and heart attacks are more of a “male issue”.
Wear Red Day aims to bring the importance of women’s heart health into the spotlight.
There’s a good chance either you or someone you know has been affected by cardiovascular disease.
Heart disease, congenital heart defects, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, and vascular dementia are just some of the conditions that fall under this category. People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop heart and circulatory conditions due to its effects on the blood vessels.
Cardiovascular diseases can affect younger and older people (although some risks can increase with age).
Certain ethnicities can have a higher prevalence due not only to family history but also socioeconomic and environmental factors.
Obesity can be a risk factor for heart disease but those who consider themselves thin and thus fit can also be at risk due to eating habits, smoking, high cholesterol, or even genetic predispositions.
Luckily, most cardiovascular disease is preventable.
Wear Red Day is to raise awareness; Go Red for Women is to take action.
Go Red stands for:
GET YOUR NUMBERS
OWN YOUR LIFESTYLE
REALIZE YOUR RISK
EDUCATE YOUR FAMILY
DON’T BE SILENT
The campaign started in the United States but the Go Red for WomenⓇ license has now been granted to 48 organisations across 42 countries through the World Heart Federation so you can find various campaigns raising awareness for women’s heart health at different times of year.
So throw on some red and find out what else you can do to support women’s cardiovascular health!
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The information in this article is for educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any treatments.