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‘Wear Red Day’ calls attention to heart disease

By Staff | Feb 5, 2011

Lee Memorial Health System announced its partnership with the American Heart Association for the next three years during the National Wear Red Day Friday afternoon, so they can help spread the message about heart disease throughout the year.
Jennifer Campbell, Go Red for Women director, explained that Lee Memorial is the first to take the highest level of sponsorship, Southwest Florida Cause Sponsor of Go Red for Women.
They are “leading the way and fighting heart disease,” she said.
Campbell said National Wear Red Day is always the first Friday in February.
This year the American Heart Association is “making it your mission” to stop heart disease in women by spreading the word to five other women. She explained they are asking community members to take it upon themselves to make others aware of heart disease symptoms.
Cindy Brown, HealthPark Medical Center vice president said “Go Red For Women” is a movement throughout the nation to increase awareness by drawing more attention to heart disease.
“For many years heart disease was thought to be predominately a men’s disease,” Brown said, which has changed.
Although a decrease in the number of women who are affected by heart disease has been recorded over the past couple of years, it is still the No. 1 cause of death in women.
About 500,000 women die every year from heart disease, Brown said adding that women have a higher chance of dying from a cardiac disease than from cancer.
“Because of these startling facts, the American Heart Association is focusing their efforts on increasing awareness for women,” Brown said.
Sally Jackson, Lee Memorial Health System director of community projects, said the campaign was started to bring forth awareness because women’s symptoms for heart disease are different than mens. She said they need to make women aware by taking proper actions in risk factors, along with knowing to dial 911 to obtain ambulance care if symptoms occur.
“So many people will try to drive themselves,” she said because women may think their symptoms are a cause of indigestion. “That response will create more damage if a heart attack is occurring.”
Jackson said if women experience tingling in their hands or arms, the feeling of indigestion and achy muscle in the neck or the back should call 911 because they may be symptoms of a heart attack. She explained that women typically do not get the “classic chest pains” that men experience when having a heart attack.
The campaign’s most important message is for women to know their numbers for their cholesterol level, body mass index, blood pressure and heart rate, along with their blood sugar level.
“By knowing those numbers you are better able to manage your lifestyle,” Brown said.
Campbell agreed that women should know where there numbers are at all times, which can be tracked online at www.goredforwomen.org.
“It will keep up with you and it will tell you what to do,” she said about the online program.
Women’s numbers can be decreased through exercising, weight management, along with eating low cholesterol foods and maintaining a low-fat diet by consuming heart healthy foods.
Jackson said about two-thirds of people are either overweight or obese in the United Sates, which needs to be changed through an individuals lifestyle.
“It is a message that is extremely important for the health of our community,” she said.
A healthy lifestyle can be maintained by walking 30 minutes a day, working in the yard, riding a bicycle, or any other type of physical exercise an individual may enjoy. Brown said the body needs to reach a higher level of exertion to keep the body healthy.
Campbell said 175 minutes of exercise a week for women is ideal, along with not smoking and eating seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Women should also go for their annual checkups and visit with their doctors on a regular basis to stay aware of their numbers, so changes to their lifestyle can be made, if necessary.
If heart disease runs in the family, Brown said it is even more important to manage their numbers because they cannot control the possibility of having a heart disease.
“You cannot control genetics, but you can control certain things,” Campbell said.
All five Lee Memorial Health System campuses participated in Go Red on Friday by wearing red, along with serving heart-healthy red foods to increase the awareness of heart disease in the cafeterias. Pamphlets were available within the cafeterias to provide further information about heart disease.
Brown said the food served either contained highlights of the color of red, or were completely red in color. The examples she gave were fresh red apples and strawberries.
Jackson said the message of Go Red for Women will be conveyed year round through health fairs and educational opportunities to help spread the word of heart disease, along with making sure women are aware of symptoms and risk factors.
She encourages everyone to share the message with those they love because “it is a message that can make a difference.”
Brown said a local organization of 60 women, Circle of Red, which is a part of the American Heart Association, meets monthly to increase the awareness of cardiac disease in Lee and Collier County.