Photo: Empire State Building goes red

Empire State Building goes red

Friday was an important day for women everywhere, and you didn’t have to look far to find proof. It was National Wear Red Day – when the entire nation got decked out in red to support the fight against heart disease in women.

Major landmarks and buildings were lit up red from New York to California, and celebrities as well as regular folks were sporting their best red outfits from coast to coast. It was all to make the very dramatic point that far too many people are not aware of: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of all women, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

While Friday was a big day for women’s health, it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, it was the lack of knowledge about this threat to women – the assumption that heart disease was an old man’s problem – that led to the creation of Go Red For Women and National Wear Red Day.

Just over a decade ago, a survey revealed a major, life-threatening awareness gap that was contributing to denial and a lack of medical attention. Women just didn’t know heart disease was their most serious health threat.

Photo: Niagara Falls goes red

Niagara Falls goes red

Since then, Go Red For Women has saved hundreds of thousands of lives and informed millions about the deadly toll heart disease is taking. Since Go Red was founded in 2004, an estimated 627,000 lives have been saved. And 9 of 10 women involved in the movement have had at least one healthy change in their lives.

“After a decade, we’re proud to say that we’ve reached millions of women across the nation with the same urgent message – that heart disease is their No. 1 health threat,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “I know we can achieve even more on behalf of the 43 million women who currently are affected by heart disease and in the future we can help many more women prevent the development of heart disease.”

Photo:  State Street goes red

State Street goes red

Friday was about spreading awareness but also celebrating lifesaving successes.

Things got off to a big start with Go Red volunteer Stacey Rosen, M.D., ringing the Opening Bell of the NASDAQ stock exchange. And if you turned on the TV at all, you saw plenty of recognizable faces sporting red as well, including:

  • Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer, George Stephanopoulos and Josh Elliot on Good Morning America
  • Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Show
  • Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters on The View
  • Katie Couric on Katie
  • Kelly Ripa on Live with Kelly and Michael
  • Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News
  • Anderson Cooper on Anderson 360
  • Craig Ferguson on The Late, Late Night Show with Craig Ferguson

The Empire State Building and Niagara Falls were among the many landmarks going red. Others include:

  • Forever Marilyn statue in Palm Springs, Calif.
  • Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas
  • John Hancock Center in Chicago
  • LP Field, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans in Nashville
  • Oriole Park at Camden Yard in Baltimore
  • Philadelphia City Hall

Despite all the excitement of the day – and all the progress over the years – there is still much to do.

Even though fewer women are dying from heart disease, cardiovascular diseases remain the No. 1 killer of women. About 43 million women are affected by cardiovascular disease and 90 percent have at least one risk factor for developing it. Many women still don’t realize heart disease is their biggest health threat.

Here’s how you can continue to support Go Red For Women:

  • Share this video with the women you love.

Watch the Go Red for Women video, “The Common Thread”.

  • Keep wearing red, and learn more about women and heart disease.
  • Follow @GoRedForWomen on Twitter.
  • Take and post a #GoRedSelfie on your social media sites.
  • Share stats about women and heart disease using the #GoRed hashtag.
  • Create a Go Red Pinterest board with your favorite red looks or heart-healthy foods.
  • Post pictures of how you’re going red on the Go Red For Women Facebook page or on the Go Red Wear Red Day website.

Enjoy these photos of the Wear Red Day celebrations across the country:

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For more information:

Empire State Building photo courtesy of the Empire State Building; Niagara Falls photo courtesy of Jennifer Pratt; State Street photo courtesy of Julia Kersey; Congressional women photos courtesy of Richard Greenhouse; Empire State Building photos courtesy of Ben Asen Photography.