Thursday, February 6, 2014

Be a Heroine: Go Red For Women by Rula Sinara

Not only is February National Heart Month, this year it also marks the 10 year anniversary of Go Red For Women, a campaign founded by The American Heart Association in 2003 after research revealed that heart disease was the number one killer of women...far worse than cancer and killing more women than men. About a woman a minute.

Women and heart disease is an issue that's...well...close to my heart. In spite of my relatively young age and healthy eating habits, my awful family history of heart disease, blood work we won't talk about and that good old buddy of mine called stress, all indicate that I'm at risk. Let's just say I'm a baby aspirin-a-day gal.

But that's not all. I've personally known young, seemingly healthy women who have died from heart attacks. One of them was a physical education instructor at my high school, and she was in her thirties. An avid jogger at that. Another, in more recent years, was a neighbor. A mother the same age as myself. Talk about a wake-up call. I've since read numerous stories about young heart attack/stroke survivors and how their conditions were missed. That's why they call heart disease in women the 'silent killer'.

Tomorrow is National Wear Red Day, which always falls on the first Friday in February. Visit the Go Red For Women site and explore the information and informative links provided, including one on Myths About Heart Disease in Women,  Facts About Heart Disease in Women and another on Know Your Risk (the latter includes stories that prove what a stealthy, silent killer heart disease is in women). They even have a store with awesome (and cute) items that you can check out HERE

I have a small collection of the AMA's Red Dress lapel pin you see in the photo because, ever since Romance Writers of America formed an alliance with Go Red For Women to raise awareness, I've received a pin during the RWA Nationals meeting. You can get one off the Go Red For Women site. I'm amazed at how many people in grocery stores ask me what the red dress is for. It has helped me spread the word. Other big name supporters include Macy's, CVS, and celebrities like Star Jones and Elizabeth Banks, just to name a few. In fact, Elizabeth directed a short film for the organization called 'Just a Little Heart Attack'.

I've been a longtime subscriber to Prevention Magazine and their February 2011 was dedicated to women and heart disease. One of the articles in it was on seven recommended screening tests your doctor may not have mentioned. You can still read the article HERE. You are your best advocate. Be a well informed patient. Ask your doctor about those tests. If you think that your doctor is brushing off your concern, find another if at all possible. You only have one heart.

Be your own proactive heroine.

Stay healthy. Be aware. Spread the word.

Wear red tomorrow, February 7th. I'll be wearing red and sporting my Go Red For Women red dress lapel pin!

15 comments:

  1. Important post Rula-thank you for sharing this info. I know, as women, we tend to putjust about everything else above our own health and we take it for granted. We have to take a moment to realize that without our health, we can be the super hero mom/wife/author/publicist/friend that we strive to be. I'll be wearing red!

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    1. Exactly, Jennifer! My mom is always reminding me to take care of myself so that I can (or I'll be around to) take care of my family...but I do need reminding. It's so easy to get caught up in hectic schedules and postpone things like our own doctor's appts. It's also the same concept they use on airplanes...put your oxygen mask on first, then help your children get theirs on.

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  2. Such an important reminder - wear red, eat healthy, take baby aspirin daily!

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    1. Well...don't take the baby aspirin daily unless your doctor prescribes it (it's not for everyone)...but do the rest! And excercise (something I've been slacking on)!

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  3. Rula, Great post and love the red lapel pin. I will wear red tomorrow. I saw a panel on TV yesterday discussing this. It was really a clip and too short. One of the speakers said when women gain weight it's often belly fat, and that puts more stress on a woman's heart. I found that interesting. Keep spreading the word.

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    1. Roz, that belly fat is particularly dangerous and not just to the heart. It can be an indicator of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes...which in turn is also a risk factor for heart disease. Weight gain around the waist line usually means there's underlying visceral fat, fat build-up around organs like the heart, which absolutely stresses the affected organs. And I'm babbling on because the more I think about it, the more motivated I am to go exercise! LOL.

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  4. All right! Thank you for such an important reminder. Heart is everything. We have to keep it healthy !

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    1. Absolutely, Muriel! The name of our line, 'Heartwarming', should be a great daily reminder for us to love our hearts ;).

      I'm having a terrible sweet craving, but I'm snacking on walnuts as I'm typing this. I may try fruit too. Trying to cut back on sugar since it has inflammatory effects on the body. And I'm a carb/sugar craver...

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  5. I'm one of 10 grandchildren on my father's side, the only female. Three of the men have died from heart attacks and two have had bypass surgery, including my brother. I had my heart checked and so far I'm okay. Thank you for this very important message. I will definitely wear red tomorrow.

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    1. Glad your heart check-up turned out well, Marion! That's the sort of family history I have, plus we have a hereditary form of high cholesterol (as in not bad diet induced). The only thing that finally brought mine down was taking red yeast rice extract and plant sterols (both prescribed by my doctor because she's awesome and reads the latest studies. These are pretty much natural forms of what pharmaceutical companies produce for cholesterol).

      Before we moved to the country for a major life change, I had a scare where, one evening, we thought I was having a heart attack. It was bad enough that my husband called 911 and I was taken to the ER. My heart, luckily seemed okay at the time, and after weeks of tests, they figured out my gallbladder was blocked and had to be removed. The point being, you never know. That's one of the points made of the Go Red site and the stories told there. Symptoms can crossover into different conditions. It's always safest to check.

      Now, I have to wonder if you got extra attention being the only granddaughter LOL ;).

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  6. Women's health is increasingly become more important to doctors and it's been a long time coming! I remember working in a hospital and seeing women get turned away from the ER with chest or jaw pain and then come back much worse only to find out they were having a heart attack. I'm so glad that these issues are in the social conscience now!

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    1. That's just amazing (and terrible), Karen. I've heard so many stories where symptoms were chalked up to 'indigestion'. Actually, that's what I was told before they'd truly 'cleared' my heart and hadn't even looked into other things (like the acute gallbladder blockage I was suffering from). I was given antacid to drink and sent home.

      And today (National Wear Red Day), my kid's school called a 'wear pink' day for assertiveness. Of all days. I sent him to school in red and told him to let everyone know why.

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  7. Rula, thanks for sharing some great information! I wish I could participate today but we're required to wear uniforms at work. I did, however, put on my red bra this morning, so I'm supporting the day beneath it all :)

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    1. LOL, Syndi. I'll take your word for it ;). And I suppose considering how close that is to your heart, it makes a good red item LOL.

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