By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

QueenRitaRedSocksThe “Red Step Challenge” is calling on people to take 6 million steps to raise awareness of the nearly 6 million Americans living with heart failure.

In hopes of educating people about the risks and symptoms of heart failure, the challenge is also meant to inspire people to become more physically active – while wearing their favorite pair of red socks – and sharing that on social media at #RiseAboveHF.org.

“My mom’s heart failure diagnosis was scary and overwhelming, but by educating ourselves about the condition, its symptoms and how to manage it, our whole family has been able to ‘rise above’ HF,” said Queen Latifah, who along with her mother, Rita Owens, works to raise awareness. “We’re excited to get America talking about HF and sharing the small steps we can all take toward a healthier heart.”

Heart failure signifies that the heart is weakened and can’t pump enough blood around the body. It can be debilitating and deadly. Early diagnosis and management are crucial and can make a difference in a person’s quality of life.

There are nearly 915,000 new cases of heart failure reported annually and the numbers are rising. At least one new diagnosis occurs every 35 seconds and nearly two hospitalizations for heart failure occur every minute, yet awareness and understanding of the disease and its symptoms are low.

Almost half of respondents in a 2015 survey incorrectly said heart failure is a silent killer with no symptoms. Additionally, many Americans may not be aware of the disproportionate impact heart failure has on minority communities.