In 2004, the American Heart Association stated that cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year. What was traditionally known as an older man’s disease has become the number one killer of women. To help bring public awareness to the disease, the American Heart Association launched Go Red for Women, a passionate social initiative designed to empower women to take care of their heart health. Below are 5 ways to Go Red on Feb. 3, nationally known as Wear Red Day.
Participate in National Wear Red Day #GoRed
Feb. 3, 2017 marks the organization’s 14th anniversary to bring awareness to women’s heart health. Participate by wearing red on Feb. 3 to increase women’s heart health awareness and aid critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health. Some women will take it a step further by committing to schedule a Well-Woman Visit, or a prevention checkup to review blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illness.
Create a Meal Plan with Heart-Healthy Recipes
Healthy eating is another important way to lower the risk for heart disease in women. To get the most benefits for your heart, you should eat more fruits, vegetables, and foods with whole grains and healthy proteins. You should also eat less food with added sugar, calories, and unhealthy fats. Click here for a list of heart-healthy recipes.
Exercising Daily Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease in Women
90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke. Along with making smart nutritional choices, exercise is vital to staying healthy. Getting fit and boosting your heart health doesn’t have to involve spending hours at the gym.
Start with activities you love – be it walking, jogging, cleaning the house, or even dancing.
Ten minutes of walking three times a day has been show to lower blood pressure more effectively than a 30-minute walk. Something simple as walking before, over lunch, and after dinner is a great way to exercise – no gym required.
Cardio isn’t the only way to heart-health. Strength training such as lifting weights, pushups and lunges can improve your health, too. Lifting weights at a moderate intensity can increase your heart rate, which means you’re working both your muscular and cardiovascular system.
Give Your Heart a Rest and Learn to Manage Your Stress
You didn’t get your project done, you’re stuck in traffic, and you’re late for an important appointment. Your breath quickens, your heart races, and your muscles tense. Sound familiar? There’s no questions that stress can exert real physiological effects on the body, including the heart. But there are ways to manage stress and help your heart.
Meditate. This practice of inward-focused thought and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Just take a few minutes to sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing.
Unplug. It’s impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Cut the cord by avoiding emails and TV news. Set your smartphone down for just 10 to 15 minutes – it can make a world of a difference.
Stay positive. Are you a glass half-empty or glass half-full type of person? How you answer this age-old question might affect your outlook on life. Try some positive thinking which can have many health benefits such as increased life span, lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress and reduced health risks.
Find your own path to stress relief. Read a book, listen to music, and take a nature walk. Any technique is effective if it works for you.
Know the Signs
Symptoms of a heart attack are different for women than for men. Most of us associate a heart attack with a dramatic clutching of the chest. For women, it doesn’t typically happen like that, and this lack of awareness can be nearly as deadly as the heart attack itself. Time is critical to lessening the damaging aftereffects of a heart attack. See a doctor immediately if you:
Feel uncomfortable pressure, fullness, or pain in the center of your chest. This is often mistaken for heartburn. If it lasts for more than a few minutes, or comes and goes, it may be a symptom of something more serious.
Nausea, breaking into a cold sweat, or lightheadedness. Flu-like symptoms are often reported in the days or weeks before an attack.
Get Involved and #GoRed
Red might not be your favorite color, but there are countless reasons to wear it on Feb. 3. Get involved, make a difference in your life, and bring awareness to heart disease in women. The American Heart Association has made it simple to partner in the movement by creating Go Red Girlfriends. There are pre-made resources for registering and volunteering to be a Go Red Hostess and fund raise for heart health awareness and research. For more information about how to get involved, check out GoRedfor Women.org/goredgirlfriends.