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Women need to realize dangers of heart disease
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Go Red For Women will celebrate its 10th year on Feb. 1, 2013. The American Heart Association’s national movement to end heart disease in women has raised awareness and nearly $300 million since it began in 2003.
“The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of women’s No. 1 health threat, cardiovascular disease, and to educate women on what they can do to reduce their risk,” said Patty Clements, Communications director for AHA in Nashville. “Up to 80 percent of cardiovascular disease is preventable.”
The movement is year-round, but highly visible on Feb. 1, during American Heart Month, when people, landmarks, companies, streets and homes will dress in red to show support for women’s fight against heart disease.
The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement also advocates for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health. Clements says the campaign has strived to end the misconception that heart disease is a man’s disease.
“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women,” Clements said. “Traditionally, heart disease has been thought of as a man’s disease. However, the statistics show women are affected just as much, and in some ways more, yet only 24 percent of participants in all heart-related studies were women.”
According to American Heart Association statistics:
• heart disease causes 1-in-3 women’s deaths each year
• 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease
• since 1984 more women than men have died each year from heart disease
• while 1-in-31 American women die from breast cancer each year, 1-in-3 die of heart disease.
Tennessee has one of the worst heart disease rates in the nation, with about 17,000 deaths each year from heart disease and stroke.
“Heart disease alone is the leading cause of death in Tennessee, accounting for 6,862 female deaths in 2009,” said Clement. “Stroke accounted for 1,832 Tennessee female deaths in 2009.”
In the 2012 County Health Ranking report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Warren County ranks 40th of 95 counties on health outcomes, and 73th of 95 counties on health factors. (1 is best, 95 is worst).
The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement has been positively impacting the health of women in the last 10 years, organizers say.
“More than 627,000 women have been saved from heart disease, and 330 fewer women are dying per day,” said Clements.
The effects of Go Red For Women can now be seen in the medical field. Clement says more women are included in medical studies pertaining to heart disease.
“We have established differences in male-female symptoms and responses to medications,” she said. “There are now more women-specific guidelines for prevention and treatment.”
The American Heart Association had a 10-year goal in 2000 to reduce heart disease risk by 25 percent. The goal was met two years early, in 2008.
Moving into its second decade, campaign plans are to continue to progress in new knowledge for treatment and prevention, specifically for women, and engage a more diverse, multicultural audience.
“We will increase efforts toward ending disparities in cardiovascular healthcare between men and women, and between persons of various socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds,” said Clement.
For more information about Go Red For Women, visit its website at www.goredforwomen.org. In Middle Tennessee, visit www.heart.org/NashvilleGoRed. The Middle Tennessee American Heart Association office number is 615-340-4100.