Charity Spotlight: American Heart Association / Go Red For Women
American Heart Association – Go Red For Women
Mission Statement: Go Red For Women encourages awareness of the issue of women and heart disease, and also action to save more lives. The movement harnesses the energy, passion and power women have to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease. It challenges them to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk. It also gives them the tools they need to lead a heart healthy life.
Heart disease is rampant on my mother’s side of my family.
My great-grandmother died from it at a relatively young age.
My grandmother lived into her early eighties, but suffered multiple heart attacks. Eventually her heart gave out on her.
My mother has suffered from high blood pressure since her forties.
This year I turned forty, and by coincidence things became hectic in my life. I received a promotion at my job and my workload (although rewarding) provided new challenges. Both of my parents are now in various stages of decline and since they’re divorced (and I have no siblings), I find myself having to run back and forth between the two of them, depending on who needs me more. Beyond this, my seventeen year old son is engaged in his own health battles, having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2011. As a woman with a full-time career and a family to look after, it was no surprise when I noticed my level of stress was on the uptick.
Last spring, I experienced a medical issue that resulted in a visit to the doctor. During that visit, it became apparent that my blood pressure was running a bit higher than normal. But my doctor wanted to give me a little time to see if my short term medical issue was the culprit for that.
It wasn’t. Over the course of several weeks, I noticed ongoing symptoms of hypertension, including mild headaches and jaw pain. Plus, it became apparent that once my stress level hit a certain high, I found it quite difficult to bring it back down. I would get worked up over something and then found it impossible to relax or shrug it off.
Keeping my family’s history of heart disease in mind, I saw my doctor again and we decided to take treatment to the next level. I had blood work drawn and I monitored my blood pressure three times a day for several weeks. When I met with my doctor again to go over all the results, we determined that my blood pressure readings tended to skew toward the higher end of normal and I learned that my cholesterol was slightly elevated. It all means that I’m not hypertensive yet, but there are indications I’m headed that way.
Whether or not this is due to genetics or lifestyle is what we have to figure out next. So this meant that I needed to commit to some changes in my lifestyle. I’ve been focusing more on my diet and making sure I take time each day for some light exercise. I joined Weight Watchers in October and I’m making headway, having lost nearly twenty pounds in the past four months. In Weight Watchers, we celebrate certain milestones and for good reason. Just by losing 5%-10% of your total body weight, your health can be positively impacted. Just this amount of weight loss “can reverse or prevent diabetes; lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels; and improve sleep apnea and other sleep problems.” It can also bring about positive changes in your mental outlook. Many people notice a reduction in depression symptoms and experience increased energy.
Chances are, one or more women in your own family has suffered from heart disease. And these are the facts:
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
- Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, but is often undiagnosed.
- Cardiovascular disease kills more women than men.
- Heart disease affects women of all ethnicities.
February is National Heart Awareness month in the United States. Eleven years ago, the American Heart Association launched it’s Go Red For Women campaign with the goal of raising awareness about women and heart disease. Women are asked to commit to a healthier lifestyle and to wear the color red to signify a united front in the ongoing battle against this silent killer. Much progress has been made spreading the word about heart disease over the past decade, but the truth remains that nearly 1,100 women die from heart disease each day.
Women who are involved with the Go Red movement live healthier lives.
- Nearly 90%have made at least one healthy behavior change.
- More than one-third has lost weight.
- More than 50% have increased their exercise.
- 6 out of 10 have changed their diets.
- More than 40% have checked their cholesterol levels.
- One third has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
When you join Go Red and share your story today, more lives will be saved tomorrow.