Each year, many of us resolve to lose weight so we can fit in clothes that we haven’t been able to wear. However, it’s much more important to focus on our health. As moms, we want to do whatever we can to be there for our children and future grandchildren, which involves making healthy choices. We need to make heart health a priority because cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women – more than all forms of cancer combined. February is American Heart Month, and the first Friday is National Wear Red Day®. On this day, everyone is encouraged to wear red to support women’s health and raise awareness about heart disease.
There is a misconception that heart disease is mainly a matter of concern for men, but in fact 1 in 3 women are living with some form of heart disease. If this seems shocking to you, please note that the term cardiovascular disease does not just refer to a heart attack – it includes a variety of conditions like stroke, irregular heartbeat, or heart valve problems. Unfortunately, we are more at risk just because of our gender. Since heart disease is so prevalent in women, it is important for us to make our health a priority.
Even though the statistics may look depressing, the good news is that 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases are preventable. Mothers are notorious for making sure that everyone else in their family eats well and is taken care of, while neglecting ourselves. This has got to change. Even those with a family history of heart disease can take steps to reduce their risk. There are things we can control, like maintaining a healthy weight or choosing not to smoke.
According to the American Heart Association, this is what it means to Go Red:
- Get Your Numbers – Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Own Your Lifestyle – Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, and eat healthy.
- Realize Your Risk – We think it won’t happen to us, but heart disease kills one of three women.
- Educate Your Family – Make healthy food choices for you and your family.
- Don’t Be Silent – Tell every woman you know that heart disease is our number one killer.
I know that each of us can start with one of the items on the list above. Women can improve their heart health by doing things like following a healthy diet, getting enough sleep (yes please), reducing or properly managing stress, and exercising consistently. I know you’ve been told repeatedly about the importance of having a healthy lifestyle, but when you think about how these actions positively affect your heart, it gives you a brand new perspective.
There is heart disease in my family history, and I’ve seen firsthand how heart disease can negatively impact someone you love. I don’t want my daughter to go through the same thing, so I know that I need to make a better effort to control what I can in order to reduce my risk of heart disease. Please join me in participating in National Wear Red Day® each year and committing to a healthy lifestyle in order to be good to our hearts. Also, encourage the women in your life to do the same. If you don’t know where to begin, the Go Red for Women website is a good place to start, as it has a lot of valuable information and resources. For the sake of you and your family, Go Red!