The Heart of the Matter

Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health
The Heart of the Matter

image by: Public Domain

Most women wrongly believe they will die from breast cancer. Statistically 1 in 4 women will die from heart disease. The Red Dress Campaign reminds women of the need to protect their heart health and inspires them to take action

February is the month when we celebrate all things “heart”. Not just the little candy hearts or crepe paper valentines but the blood-pumping, keep you alive kind as well. It's National Heart Awareness month and its purpose is to spread the word about women and heart disease, its causes, symptoms, and prevention. And what better way to bring attention to something scary than to partner it with something women REALLY love – FASHION.

The Heart Truth is a national campaign committed to fighting heart disease and is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in partnership with the fashion industry. Heart Truth created and introduced The Red Dress Campaign for women and heart disease awareness in 2002 to deliver an urgent wake-up call to American women. The Red Dress reminds women of the need to protect their heart health and inspires them to take action. Each February since its launch, The Red Dress symbol has come to life on the runway with the support of the fashion industry and celebrity models at the Red Dress Collection Fashion Show.

On February 11, more than 20 of today’s hottest celebrities (Kristen Chenoweth, Kim Kardashian, Dania Ramirez, Jordin Sparks, Estelle, Jewel, Rose McGowan, Mamie Gummer, and Felicity Huffman) will walk the runway in red dresses created by some of America's top designers. The Heart Truth will debut their Red Dress Collection for 2010 on opening night at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week kick off.  And, for the second year in a row, a selection of dresses modeled by  celebrities will be auctioned off to the public.  All proceeds from the auction will benefit the National Institutes of Health and will be used to further efforts related to women's heart health, awareness, and research.

Red Dress Collection 2009; Backstage
Casey Johson

In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. One woman dies every 60 seconds from some form of cardiovascular disease.  The Heart Truth campaign is providing vitally important information about the risks of heart disease and how to lower your chances of heart attack and stroke. The campaign is focused on women of color and women between the ages 40 and 60, the age when a woman's risk of heart disease increases dramatically.

Heart disease is often considered a 'man's disease' and because of that misconception, many people are unaware that heart disease is the number one killer of women over the age of 65. Most women wrongly believe they will die from breast cancer. Statistically, 1 in 4 women will die from heart disease; while 1 in 30 will die from breast cancer. Also, 23% of women will die within 1 year of having a heart attack, and only 1/3 of women who have a heart attack ever make a full recovery.

Because of these alarming statistics, every woman needs to know the risk factors which include:  being 55 or older, a family history of heart disease, a previous heart attack or stroke, being post-menopausal, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking. Women tend to have more atypical symptoms than men so you should not ignore pain in the jaw, shoulders, or between the shoulder blades.  Also, nausea, abdominal discomfort, vomiting or an upset stomach, back pain, shortness of breath, burning in the chest area, and unexplained fatigue are symptoms to talk to your doctor about. While there are a number of women who may experience chest pain, it is very important to become familiar with the classic symptoms as well as the less common symptoms.

Good news though! You can lower your risk – we all know what we’re supposed to do.  Eat healthily - avoid salt and fatty, processed foods.  Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.  And if you smoke – QUIT.  But it’s hard.  I know.  Heart disease develops gradually and can start at a very young age-even in your teenage years.  If you're a woman between the ages of 40-60, it's particularly important that you educate yourself about the dangers of heart disease. 

Remember, it's never too late to take action to prevent and control heart disease. Even those who have heart disease can improve their heart health and quality of life.

Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of the Best.

Introducing Stitches!

Your Path to Meaningful Connections in the World of Health and Medicine
Connect, Collaborate, and Engage!

Coming Soon - Stitches, the innovative chat app from the creators of HWN. Join meaningful conversations on health and medical topics. Share text, images, and videos seamlessly. Connect directly within HWN's topic pages and articles.

Be the first to know when Stitches starts accepting users

The Latest from Celebrity Health

Susan Lucci's Real Life Soap Opera
Susan Lucci's Real Life Soap Opera

I am the luckiest actress on the planet - Susan Lucci

Help St. Jude
Help St. Jude

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver - Maya Angelou

Stick It to the Flu
Stick It to the Flu

Imagine the action of a vaccine not just in terms of how it affects a single body, but also in terms of how it affects the collective body of a community — Eula Biss, author of On Immunity

Stay Connected