The fact is: Heart disease kills one in three women each year – that’s approximately one woman every minute. But it doesn’t affect all women alike, and the warning signs for women aren’t the same in men. What’s more: These facts only begin to scratch the surface. To learn more, click here.
In 2003, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute took action against a disease that was claiming the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year – a disease that women weren’t paying attention to. A disease they truly believed, and many still believe to this day, affects more men than women.
Stemming from that action, National Wear Red Day was born. It’s held on the first Friday in February every year to raise awareness about heart disease being the No. 1 killer of women.
From time to time I write about an issue that is important to me. Many of my friends support issues that have touched their lives in some way. One friend who gave birth to a premie supports the March of Dimes. Many of my friends support suicide education and prevention programs. Other friends support causes such as MS, MD, Cancer Awareness programs, and AIDS awareness programs. I have two issues that stand out for me. One is mental health (including alcohol and drug awareness) awareness programs. The other is the American Heart Association. National Wear Red Day is a reminder for women to check health checkups, take preventive care when it comes to heart disease, and know the signs of a heart attack or stroke.
Before March 7,2008 I never really thought much about heart disease. It has always seemed like an issue for old men. None of the women in my family have ever had issues with their heart. My father died from complications of heart disease, but he was a man after all. Truth is, I didn’t really know many people who had died from heart attacks.
On the morning of March 8th, 2008, a phone call changed my life. My friend’s voice cracked as she told me that my best friend had died the night before. I didn’t understand. She was only 57 years old, just a year older than me. She died from a massive blockage in the arteries of her heart. An ambulance was called but she died before they could reach her.
I have always heard that you can’t die from a broken heart. I thought I might for a long time after that. She did die from a “broken” heart. No one really knows why or how her heart was in such bad shape. She dealt with many health problems over her lifetime and had undergone gastric bypass surgery a year earlier. She had lost a lot of weight and was leading a more active lifestyle that she had in many years. It just didn’t make sense.
I share this story with you today because there is something we can do to help ourselves and other women. We can support each other when we are dealing with the stress of living life. We can encourage our friends to eat better, exercise, quit smoking, and get yearly check-ups. We can share information about health checkups and about the signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke.
I still miss my friend more than I can tell you. I don’t know if some test might have found her problems or if she ignored signs of a pending problem. I only hope that sharing this information will help keep the women in my life heart healthy.