It's Time to Go Red

by Melissa Brunner

I had the honor Friday of hosting the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women luncheon in Topeka. The goal of the event is to education women - and men - about their risks for heart disease and what they can do to lower those risks.

While people talk about heart disease, it almost seems like it's addressed as a fact of life. But it doesn't have to be. A message stressed repeatedly Friday is that we can be proactive in protecting our health. It starts with knowing our numbers - what is your blood pressure? cholesterol? BMI? If you know your own numbers, ask your mother, daughter, sister and friend if they know their numbers, too. Also, know your symptoms. Women's symptoms can be different from a man's, and we tend to be more likely to ignore them. Time is muscle - the longer your heart is deprived of oxygen, the more damage that is done.

Why is it important? Below are some facts complied by the American Heart Association, in conjunction with the CDC and National Institutes of Health. I've also included a video message from Deborah Rose, a retired Kansas National Guard brigadier general who survived a heart attack. Don't ignore them - the consequences could be deadly.

  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
  • Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
  • An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
  • Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
  • The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood.
  • While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
  • Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
  • Women comprise only 24 percent of participants in all heart-related studies.
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