Jeanne LaSargeBono, Metro Executive Director, has been with the American Heart Association for about a year. She works closely with Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa counties and the broader West Michigan area up to Traverse City, increasing awareness of cardiovascular disease and encouraging people to make healthier choices.
WHAT DO WE ALL NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WOMEN AND HEART DISEASE?
One of the basic stats: 1 in 3 women die from cardiovascular disease —more than all cancers combined. It's the No. 1 killer of women. The cardiovascular system touches every organ in the body. For a long time, women were at greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than men. There's more information out there now.
We've made great strides, but have a long way to go.
WHAT IS GO RED FOR WOMEN?
Go Red For Women, which began in 2004, is a national—even global—movement to increase awareness of risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. We want to get people behind this effort and provide information to help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Ninety percent of women involved in a Go Red For Women event take steps to improve their health and awareness. Cardiovascular disease has become so normalized that the risk isn't always recognized. Getting information out has helped moved the needle on awareness. This has made and continues to make a difference in women's lives.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
One reason why women are at higher risk of dying is they don't display the same symptoms as men. The Hollywood symptoms aren't there—those classic symptoms like clutching the chest. Women's symptoms are mostly ignored or misdiagnosed. We're used to toughing it out! Go Red For Women brings attention to symptoms and make women aware of the need to be checked out. That messaging makes a difference. We often hear from women after a Go Red event who discovered they had cardiovascular disease. Eighty percent of cardiovascular disease is preventable. If you do things incrementally, you put yourself in a better position.
We have Life's Simple 7—the top seven factors you can improve on: Manage blood pressure. Control cholesterol. Reduce blood sugar. Get active. Eat better. Lose weight. Stop smoking.
Brain health and heart health are important. Balance makes a difference. You don't have to be the Workout King of the World. Putting yourself into a healthier balance and doing things to improve yourself could lower your risk.
HOW COULD WE ALL GET INVOLVED?
Reach out and contact the American Heart Association locally—visit www.heart.org/grandrapidsatheart or call 616.285.1888. Get involved by attending or volunteering at events and working on initiatives. Get involved by giving, to help build a healthier community here in West Michigan.
We need to build healthier future generations!
As part of the Go Red For Women movement, Friday, February 2, 2018, is National Wear Red Day. Post photos of yourself wearing red to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! #GoRedGrandRapids #GoRedKzoo
Written by Amy L Charles, Editorial Director for West Michigan Woman.