For too many years in America, heart disease was considered a man’s disease. It was generally accepted among private citizens and the medical community that heart disease was more likely to hit the male population, due to their lifestyles, physical makeup and stress associated with their work. No one knows how many women lost their lives because of this widespread misconception, but today things are thankfully different. Today, it is widely understood that many women are at great risk for heart disease.
February is Heart Month, although the American Heart Association focuses on women’s cardiovascular health year round. A quick look at the numbers explains why: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one killer of Louisianians, accounting for 35 percent of all deaths.
The CVD death rate in Louisiana was 12 percent higher than the national rate (2002) Cardiovascular diseases kill more women than men in Louisiana and in the New Orleans area. Louisiana residents spent a total of $455,652 days in the hospital due to CVD, at a cost of $2.4 billion.The average hospitalization for CVD lasted five days and produced $26,608 in charges. With numbers like these, the AHA took it upon itself some years ago to bring national attention to the plight of the neglected female population.
Choose to Move is the association’s initiative to help women become more physically active. The step-by-step program takes women through simple exercises and offers useful tips for increasing physical activity and reaching heart-healthy goals.
Over a 12-week period, participants learn new strategies to improve their health. The focus is on developing new skills that help women reach their objectives. On the AHA Web site (www.americanheart.org) you can download charts and worksheets to help track your progress. Also on the web site you can find a week-by-week schedule of action steps to help you realize your goals of becoming more heart healthy.
The AHA also sponsors the Go Red campaign, a powerful initiative to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke. By joining with thousands of women, companies and organizations, and cities across America, you will help the American Heart Association support ongoing research and education about women and heart disease.
February 2 is National Wear Red Day, when women are asked to wear their favorite red clothes or accessory — a red blouse, a red dress pin, a fabulous red handbag, put on red lipstick or sport a red tie and red socks. Go red in your own fashion to show your support for women and the fight against heart disease.
The New Orleans metro area is spotlighting Go Red with two scheduled luncheons.
The New Orleans Goes Red Luncheon will be held from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wed., February 28 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona will do a heart health cooking demonstration at the luncheon.
The Slidell Go Red Luncheon is scheduled for 10 a.m-1p.m. on Wed., March 7 at Harbor Center.
Both events will feature health screenings, informational breakout sessions and a heart-healthy lunch. For more information on these events, call the American Heart Association at 504-830-2300.
For detailed information on the entire Go Red campaign, check out the Web site, www.goredforwomen.