Feb. 1 Marks Red Dress Day to Promote Women's Heart Health

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Now you have fair warning! Get your red dress ready because Friday, February 1 is National Wear Red Day.

    The Red Dress is the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness. The dress was designated as the national symbol for women and heart disease in 2002, is designed to serve as a reminder for women that this condition is the top killer of women.

    The Red Dress campaign is part of The Heart Truth, a national campaign coordinated by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and partner organizations. The campaign is aimed for women between the ages of 40 and 50, which is the period when the risk of heart disease starts to increase in women.

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    A specifically targeted initiative, The Heart Truth Women of Color initiative, is focused on increasing awareness of heart disease among women of color since African American and Hispanic women tend to have high rates of risk factors for heart disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and obesity. This particular initiative involves numerous partners, including:

    • National Latina Health Network, which has conducted heart health screenings and education sessions in New York City, Houston, Chicago and Miami.
    • National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses, which partnered with three Atlanta churches to launch the NCPS Heart Truth Pilot Program that recruited and tracked the participation of African American women through health education sessions, walking clubs and regular screenings.
    • The Links, Incorporated, which adopted The Heart Truth as one of its signature programs and offered the program in four chapters across the country. These chapters hosted heart health education sessions, screenings for risk factors and a workshop. This effort reached more than 1,500 African American women.
    • Favaloro Foundation, which is helping educate women in the Republic of Argentina on risk factors for heart disease. The NHILBI reported that approximately 250 of 100,000 people die in Argentina each year of heart disease; of these, 40 percent are women.

    So besides wearing red, what should you do to learn more about heart disease? First of all, be proactive about talking to your doctor. “Many doctors don't routinely bring up the subject with women patients,” the Heart Truth website states. Make sure that a thorough checkup and a discussion of goals for heart health are part of your appointment with the doctor. If you already are being treated for heart disease or heart disease risk factors, make sure you review your treatment plan with your doctor. Share any information that would be beneficial to your doctor in helping you protect your heart health. And if the doctor uses medical jargon that you don’t understand, be sure to ask for a clarification.

    And there are lifestyle changes that you can make to bolster your heart health. The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women recommends the following:

    • Stop smoking.
    • Control high blood pressure.
    • Control high blood cholesterol.
    • Avoid being overweight or obese. A small weight loss of 5-10 percent of your current weight can help lower the risk of heart disease and other serious medical disorders.
    • Be physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most, if not all days of the week.
    • Avoid diabetes. The risk of type 2 diabetes tends to increase after the age of 45. Risk factors include extra weight, inactivity and a family history.
    • Be careful about hormone replacement therapy. Researchers have determined that long-term use of hormone therapy may increase the risk of both heart attack and stroke.
    • Be careful about birth control pills. Researchers have found that the use of high-dose birth control pills increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke in women who take them.
    • Lower stress and deal with depression.
    • Limit alcohol consumption to one glass. More than three alcoholic drinks per day can raise blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Binge drinking also can contribute to strokes. In addition, too much alcohol has been found to damage the heart muscle, thus leading to heart failure.
    • Control sleep apnea.

    So on February 1, be sure to paint the town red in your outfit. And then afterward, recommit to a healthy lifestyle to make sure that you keep your heart healthy and doing its job – helping you lead a happy and productive life!

  • Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

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    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (2012). About the Heart Truth.

    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (2012). Lower heart disease risk.

    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (2012). Women of color partners.

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2007). The healthy heart handbook for women.

Published On: January 22, 2013