Why We Wear Red

BY JAMES HARNEY | The American Heart Association (AHA) is uniting with communities across the city to spread the message that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the US. Thousands of New Yorkers will participate in National Wear Red Day on Fri., Feb. 2 by donating to the Go Red For Women campaign and taking steps to better understand their heart health. Some organizations will offer heart-healthy lunch-and-learn programs, organize healthy walks, or offer healthier foods in vending machines or cafeterias. In addition, landmarks and buildings around the city and state will illuminate in red.

Each year, heart disease and stroke cause one in three deaths among women, and AHA statistics show that despite an abundance of public awareness campaigns, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke. The good news, the group notes, is that by understanding your risk factors, about 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable.

“Going Red is such a simple yet effective way to raise awareness about heart disease and celebrate heart health. We know the Go Red movement helps save women’s lives through education and advocacy. February is the perfect time to learn more about your heart health and make positive lifestyle changes,” said Dr. Stacey Rosen, a spokeswoman for the AHA and vice president for Women’s Health at Northwell Health’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health in Lake Success, LI.

Rosen and Dr. Jennifer Mieres — both professors of Cardiology at Hofstra University’s Zucker School of Medicine — have co-authored a new book, “Heart Smart for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S. in Six Weeks to Heart-Healthy Living.”

Rosen said the book “was inspired by the thousands of incredible women we have treated as patients or met at lectures and health screenings. We know our program works and will enable women to translate the knowledge of heart disease into an actionable plan that will put them on the road to heart-healthy living.”

The cardiologists noted their book — and the Go Red For Women campaign — is “based on published research as well as on real life stories from our patients,” and encourages women to learn their family’s health history and to meet regularly with a healthcare provider to determine their risk for cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

“Every woman should have a clinician, someone you see over time and can partner with to monitor your health, someone who can help them know their heart health numbers. We joke that you would never go to your accountant to get your taxes done without being prepared with your financial numbers, and the truth is you should never go to your doctor without knowing your five important heart health numbers,” Rosen said. Those five numbers, she explained, are your:

  • Total cholesterol: “This can be measured with a simple blood test.”
  • HDL (good) cholesterol: “You want that number to be higher, rather than lower.”
  • Blood sugar: “Even mild elevations in blood sugar — a condition sometimes called pre-diabetes — can impact your risk for heart disease.”
  • Blood pressure: “There are new guidelines on how to measure blood pressure. Have a home blood pressure monitoring device and know how to use it.”
  • Body mass index: A measure of your height, in relation to your weight.

In connection with the launch of their book, the authors have also launched the Get Heart Smart for Women campaign, which Mieres said “is a call to action for women everywhere that will inspire them to take the first steps towards translating their knowledge into action.

“While women are eager to change their lifestyles, most don’t know where to begin,” she said, adding that “Heart Smart for Women” provides “a practical step-by-step program to help women of all ages put the research and physician’s guidance into action. The book provides readers with comprehensive insight on the workings of the heart while demystifying the science, risk factors and symptoms of heart disease. The book is a lifestyle tool stocked with effective guidance on diet, sleep, stress, strength and flexibility exercises, physician partnership and other critical factors for a heart-healthy life.”

Rosen said that February’s Get Heart Smart for Women campaign will “focus on blanketing communities with educational programs and a variety of events to extend knowledge about healthy heart care.

“People get scared that their options are limited,” she added. “The truth is, anything you do will help. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, just try walking more. Maybe your diet’s not perfect, but try oatmeal some mornings for breakfast and try sprinkling some blueberries on top.”

“Being knowledgeable about heart disease is not enough. It is time for women to translate their knowledge into action. Only then will we really see the needle start to move. It’s time for a new call to action,” Mieres said.

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Go Red For Women is nationally sponsored by Macy’s and CVS Health; and locally by New York City Goes Red Sponsors, Northwell Health and the Elizabeth Elting Foundation. This movement inspires women to make lifestyle changes, mobilize communities, and shape policies to save lives. For more information on National Wear Red Day or to register your company or organization to participate, visit the American Heart Association at nycgored.heart.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *