The American Heart Association (AHA) celebrates its 11th National Wear Red Day on Friday February 7. The event, in conjunction with the AHA’s Go Red for Women campaign, raises awareness and support for cardiovascular disease in women. Heart disease, generally considered a man’s disease, is the number one killer of women in the United States and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. A statistic people have often heard, but do not often take to heart.
The Go Red for Women campaign was launched 10 years ago in 2004. The month-long campaign focuses on awareness, support and education for women’s heart disease. The campaign is designed to inspire women to take a stand and unite against the deadly disease. Go Red events continue to grow each year, as thousands of companies and people join the efforts.
The red dress icon symbolically represents the fight against cardiovascular disease in women. The icon first debuted during fashion week in 2003 as part of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), The Heart Truth campaign. This year, the NHLBI has teamed up with the AHA to showcase the Go Red for Women campaign during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City on February 6. As part of the NHLBI’s awareness campaign, its Red Dress Collection has kicked-off fashion week for the past ten years. One of the most popular events at fashion week, the Red Dress Collection show enlists the help of top designers and celebrities. This years celebrities include past Olympians Lindsey Vonn and Sasha Cohen as well as Vanna White and reality star Nene Leakes, just to mention a few. The Go Red campaign is also known for its iconic red dress which makes the collaboration at this year’s fashion week all the more appropriate.
The Go Red Challenge not only raises awareness for cardiovascular disease, it inspires people and companies to unite in the fight for better health in women. There are Go Red events throughout the country, one of the most popular being Go Red for Women luncheons. These luncheons often bring in women living with heart disease in hopes of not only pulling at the heart-strings but at the purse strings as well. The American Heart Association Go Red for Women’s website offers many suggestions for companies to get involved. There are often employee fundraisers on National Wear Red Day boasting not only red clothing but red dress pins and stickers alike.
Wearing red may be a fun thing to do on National Wear Red Day, however it is designed to send a message. A message to not only women but to men as well. One in three women will die from heart disease. Cardiovascular Disease takes the lives of 500,000 women a year. One of the messages trying to be sent is symptom awareness. Symptoms of heart disease in women can be very different than symptoms in men. Symptoms go far beyond the usual chest and arm pain associated with men. Women often have signs prior to an actual cardiac event. Four major signs for women to be aware of are shortness of breath not usually experienced; irregular pain in the upper or lower back; jaw pain associated with exertion and nausea with flu-like symptoms.
Americans are urged to take the Go Red Challenge on February 7. By simply wearing red, one can help raise awareness for Cardiovascular Disease and encourage the continued fight for better health in women.
By Shannon Malone