Red is a common color this time of year. It characterizes the Valentine's Day candies that fill shelves at the supermarket, the shiny, cellophane wrapped heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, and bouquets of roses. There is a day, though, before February 14 that recognizes hearts--not the cartoonish kind, rather the ones with atria and ventricles.
Friday, February 2 is National Wear Red Day, a day recognizing cardiovascular disease in the United States. According to the American Heart Association
, cardiovascular disease kills one American woman every eighty seconds. That equates to 1,080 deaths/day and 2,200 per day when men are included.
"Chances are we all know someone affected by heart disease and stroke, because about 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day. That's an average of one death every forty seconds," said Jessica DiMeo, the Senior Regional Director of Communications at the American Heart Association.
Wearing red will do more than bring attention to heart disease. In addition to spreading awareness, National Wear Red day is a means of raising funds for AHA. Organizations nationwide enroll, register, and receive a kit for February 2. People are also encouraged to dress in red and donate $5 to the Go Red For Women campaign.
All proceeds from Go Red for Women activities and "FUNraisers" go towards supporting awareness, research, education, and community programming to benefit women. As of February 1, over $51,000 has been raised by over 280 "FUNraisers"--which include both individuals and organizations.
The campaign is overseen by the AHA and focuses on women. This is because historically, the focus of heart disease has largely been on men. Men were the main subjects of medical research which ultimately yielded a skewed understanding of heart disease and stroke as women were not sufficiently considered.
Go Red For Women's symbol is a red dress to "create synergy among all organizations committed to fighting this cause," according to the campaign's website, though one need not wear a dress to support the cause. One can also take part on social media by using the official hashtag #WearRedAndGive.
"The American Heart Association encourages everyone to take charge of their heart health and participate in National Wear Red Day on February 2nd," said DiMeo.
As a result of fundraising over the years, the Go Red for Women campaign has developed tools that women can use to assess their risk and educate themselves about heart disease. According to AHA, more than 2 million women have taken the Go Red Heart CheckUp which can be completed online.
While heart disease affects millions of Americans every year, it can be prevented through a proper diet and understanding of the disease and one's risk. National Wear Red Day is just one means of educating the public about cardiovascular disease so that individuals can lead healthier lives with a healthy heart.
For more information about the American Heart Association and its Go Red for Women campaign, please visit ww.heart.org or www.goredforwomen.org.