Maybe you have heard of Wear Red Day. You may have a mother, sister, or cousin, who has been affected by heart disease, stroke, and another cardiovascular diseases. Perhaps you yourself are the one with a heart condition. Or the check out clerk at Albertsons asked if you’d like to donate $1 for heart research. So maybe you’re already wearing red today to bring awareness to this important cause. But if, like me, you’ve heard about this national campaign but don’t know much about it, and are only just now realizing that yes, in fact, you do know women who are affected by cardiovascular issues, here’s what you need to know:
What is Wear Red Day?
Wear Red Day is a national awareness campaign by the non-profit American Heart Association to bring awareness and raise funds for research. According to the AHA Website, cardiovascular disease claims a female life every 80 seconds. Each year, 1 in 3 deaths among women are caused by heart disease and stroke alone. That is mind boggling, especially considering that many of these losses can be avoided with education and preventative measures.
Why is it important for women in particular to be aware of this issue?
According to this article from Harvard Medical School, women are six times more likely to have heart disease than breast cancer, and yet we tend to fear breast cancer more than heart issues. This could also stem from the fact that heart disease typically shows up after menopause and later in life. It can also be a “silent killer” in which you don’t notice the symptoms until it’s too late. If you do one thing because of this post, it should be to read this Harvard article (i’m linking it here again because it’s that important!) which clearly lays out warning signs and how to reduce your risk.
How can busy moms modify their lives to take care of their heart health?
I’m going to speak for myself here when I say that ever since my first child was born, I’ve stopped taking as good care of myself physically, not because I no longer care but because I just don’t have the time or mental energy to even think about how to fit in a weekly yoga class. Perhaps you can identify with this too. Well, there’s always room for improvement as they say. So here are just a few easy ways you can help reduce your risk of heart disease:
- Be more active. 30 minutes a day of physical activity, or as much as you can reasonably fit into your hectic schedule. E.g. take the stairs instead of the elevator (unless you’ve got a stroller, obvi).
- Eat more healthfully. I tend to feed my kids really excellent meals of whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, good fats, clean protein etc., and then after they go to bed I end up snarfing down half a bag of cheese puffs while standing in an unlit kitchen at 10pm at night. That has got to stop.
- Reduce stress and get more rest. Hahahaha! That’s funny. But yes, in theory, I do want to reduce stress, and I really hope to be able to sleep more. That may have to wait until both kids are in school. But it is a priority!
- Be aware of your health stats. BMI, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, these are all factors that affect heart health and can be managed either through lifestyle changes or medication. For more information, check out: https://www.goredforwomen.org/know-your-numbers/
What other heart-health events are coming up locally that we can participate in?
If you missed out on wearing red today, you can still participate in the 2017 Orange County Heart & Stroke Walk, which will be taking place this year on March 4 at Angels Stadium. Strollers are allowed on the 5k course, and they’ll even have a Kids Zone! Other upcoming events sponsored by the AHA are the Go Red For Women Luncheon on March 24, and the Heart Ball on April 8.
Any other ways that we can support and bring more awareness to this cause?
The Orange County AHA’s facebook page posts helpful information and motivation for keeping heart healthy. They’re also on Twitter, youtube, and other social media. You can get involved in Washington by signing the petitions urging congress to tax sugary drinks, require healthy school lunches, and fully fund physical education in schools. And of course, the best way to affect change is to lead by example: Talk to other moms you know about heart health, start a women’s walking club in your neighborhood. Most importantly, teach your children healthy heart habits that will, hopefully, last them a long lifetime.