February is American Heart Month when people around the country come together to raise awareness of the high levels of heart disease and stroke afflicting our nation. As the month draws to a close, we thought it would be valuable to reflect on and appreciate a specific initiative: Go Red For Women.
Go Red For Women was launched in 2004 by the American Heart Association as a campaign to end heart disease and stroke in women. While originating in the United States, it has since grown into a global movement. This is because it speaks to a chilling statistic that transcends international borders. Specifically, they state that “Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, killing more women than all forms of cancer combined.”
Every Woman Deserves a Healthy Heart
In her journal article Coronary Heart Disease in Women: A Challenge for the 21st Century, Maria Cecília Solimene identifies a few reasons many modern women suffer from heart-related health issues. These include pressure to balance professional and domestic responsibilities, insufficient rest, and lack of physical exercise. What’s more, compared to men, women rarely participate in preventative studies and undergo less intensive and less invasive treatment for chest pain. This is especially alarming when you consider that the rate of coronary death is twice as high in women as it is in men, after myocardial infarction and revascularization procedures.
Women are also less likely to know that they’re having a heart attack, as symptoms can differ from what is typically recognized in popular culture. As the AHA notes, women who are experiencing cardiac arrest may experience pain in their neck, back, stomach, or jaw. Women are also likely to experience shortness of breath and nausea, as well as insomnia and anxiety in the days or weeks leading up to a cardiac event.
According to Harvard Medical School, many women significantly underestimate their risk of heart disease, especially compared to their risk of breast cancer. This is in spite of heart disease being responsible for the death of six times as many women in America each year.
Reducing Heart Risk is a Year-Round Commitment
While American Heart Month may come to an end, the dangers of heart disease, cardiac arrest, and stroke aren’t so kind. This is why it’s important for all Americans to develop healthy habits and take measures to identify, combat, and prevent heart-related issues in themselves and their loved ones. Effective measures include:
- Avoiding cigarette smoke
- Being more physically active
- Eating a healthy diet
- Reducing stress
It’s also important to know and understand the five measures that offer an accurate indication of your heart health. These are:
- total cholesterol
- blood pressure
- blood sugar
How to GO RED and Make a Difference
If you would like to take part in American Heart Awareness Month and continue building awareness in your home and workplace throughout the year, Go Red For Women offers the following advice:
- Get your numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Own your lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, and eat healthily.
- Realize your risk: We think it won’t happen to us, but heart disease kills one of three women.
- Educate your family: Make healthy food choices for you and your family.
- Don’t be silent: Tell every woman you know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer.
One of the most important measures you can take against heart disease and cardiac arrest is to be prepared to save a life when disaster strikes. The use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), when coupled with cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), has been shown to increase the likelihood of survival following sudden cardiac arrest. Having AEDs in the workplace with employees trained in administering CPR and in the use of the AEDs is a big first step in that preparation.
A second big step is to have an established AED management program to assure that your AEDs are in proper working order to be used when needed by properly trained staff.
PlusTrac™ has your back in this regard with information to help you make sure your AEDs are fully prepared for a sudden cardiac arrest event. Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date with important news about AEDs.