By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Television news anchors, members of Congress and Americans nationwide wore red Friday to spotlight a health threat many women don’t realize: cardiovascular diseases.
Major landmarks and buildings, including Niagara Falls and Graceland, will also be lit up red from coast to coast to celebrate National Wear Red Day, part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women initiative.
Heart disease and stroke are the world’s two leading killers, and more than one in three U.S. women live with some form of cardiovascular disease. But studies show 80 percent of cardiac events and strokes are preventable.
Women are being encouraged to wear red and take action to know their cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index to curb cardiovascular risk.
“What I’m hoping we can do every single year is for women to become a little bit more connected to their hearts,” said Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., a New York cardiologist and AHA spokesperson. She urges women to think of a “heart check” the same way they think about a mammogram for breast cancer or a Pap test for cervical cancer.
To generate awareness, women in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate will wear red, alongside Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-Indiana) and Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Florida), the chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.
In addition, red-clad national and local TV personalities will appear on more than 50 programs, including CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, “Good Morning America” and “The Chew.”
Women’s awareness of heart disease warning signs and risks has increased in recent decades. A study found that more than half of women surveyed in 2009 knew that cardiovascular disease was their leading cause of death, up from less than a third of women in 1997.
Despite the progress, Steinbaum said “99 percent” of women attending her lectures about women and heart disease believe breast cancer is their top health threat.
“Without getting the message out, action can’t happen,” she said.
“Women need to know that heart disease is within their control, even if they have a family history,” Steinbaum said. “Without a discussion with a doctor and education about heart disease, women won’t know what to do.”
Here’s a look at scenes from across the country for National Wear Red Day and American Heart Month: