Heart Health and Women

February 2 is National Go Red Day. | AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION

Call it a “red alert” for women!

New Yorkers will “Wear Red and Give” on Friday, February 2 to spread the message that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the US.

The American Heart Association is uniting with communities across the city to “Go Red and Give” on this special day to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke, which cause one in three deaths among women each year. Association statistics also show that despite an abundance of public-awareness campaigns, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke.

The good news, the group says, is that if you understand your risk factors, about 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases are preventable.

Go Red aims to promote knowledge and action about preventable cardiovascular disease

Thousands of New Yorkers will participate in National Wear Red Day by donating to the Go Red For Women campaign and taking steps to better understand their heart health. Some organizations will offer heart-healthy lunch-and-learn programs, organize healthy walks, or offer healthier foods in vending machines or cafeterias. In addition, landmarks and buildings around the city and state will be illuminated in red to help raise awareness of women’s heart health.

“Going Red is such a simple yet effective way to raise awareness about heart disease and celebrate heart health,” said Dr. Stacey Rosen, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and vice president for Women’s Health at Northwell Health’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health on Long Island. “We know the Go Red movement helps save women’s lives through education and advocacy. February is the perfect time to learn more about your heart health and make positive lifestyle changes.”

Rosen and Dr. Jennifer Mieres — both professors of cardiology at Hofstra University’s Zucker School of Medicine — have co-authored a new book, “Heart Smart for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S. in Six Weeks to Heart-Healthy Living.”

Rosen said the book “was inspired by the thousands of incredible women we have treated as patients or met at lectures and health screenings. We know our program works and will enable women to translate the knowledge of heart disease into an actionable plan that will put them on the road to heart-healthy living.”

The cardiologists said their book is “based on published research as well as on real life stories from our patients,” and encourages women to learn their family’s health history and to meet regularly with a healthcare provider to determine their risk for cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

“Every woman should have a clinician, someone you see over time and can partner with to monitor your health, someone who can help them know their heart health numbers,” Rosen said. “We joke that you would never go to your accountant to get your taxes done without being prepared with your financial numbers, and the truth is you should never go to your doctor without knowing your five important heart health numbers.”

Those five numbers, she explained, are your:

Total cholesterol: “This can be measured with a simple blood test.”

HDL (good) cholesterol: “You want that number to be higher, rather than lower.”

Blood sugar: “Even mild elevations in blood sugar — a condition sometimes called pre-diabetes — can impact your risk for heart disease.”

Blood pressure: “There are new guidelines on how to measure blood pressure. Have a home blood-pressure monitoring device and know how to use it.”

Body-mass index: “A measure of your height in relation to your weight.”

In connection with the launch of “Heart Smart for Women,” the authors have also launched the Get Heart Smart for Women campaign, which Mieres said is a call to action for women everywhere that will inspire them to take the first steps toward translating their knowledge into action.

“While women are eager to change their lifestyles, most don’t know where to begin,” she said. “‘Heart Smart For Women’ provides a practical step-by-step program to help women of all ages put the research and physician’s guidance into action. The book provides readers with comprehensive insight on the workings of the heart while demystifying the science, risk factors, and symptoms of heart disease. The book is a lifestyle tool stocked with effective guidance on diet, sleep, stress, strength and flexibly exercises, physician partnership, and other critical factors for a heart-healthy life.”

Rosen said that in February the Get Heart Smart for Women campaign will focus on blanketing communities with education programs and a variety of events to extend knowledge about healthy heart care.

“People get scared that their options are limited,” she added. “The truth is anything you do will help. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, just try walking more. Maybe your diet’s not perfect, but try oatmeal some mornings for breakfast and try sprinkling some blueberries on top.”

Mieres added, “Being knowledgeable about heart disease is not enough. It is time for women to translate their knowledge into action. Only then will we really see the needle start to move. It’s time for a new call to action.”

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Go Red For Women is nationally sponsored by Macy’s and CVS Health, and locally by the New York City Goes Red Sponsors Northwell Health and the Elizabeth Elting Foundation. For more information on National Wear Red Day or to register your company or organization to participate, visit the American Heart Association at nycgored.heart.org.