The women in my family have a history of heart disease.
It sounds innocuous enough when I say it that way. It's a whole lot more real when I say:
"I was three years old when my grandma was babysitting my cousin and me. She was in her fifties. And she had a heart attack. All I remember about that day is that I spilled a gallon of milk. That's long-forgotten, but the day's other events changed the course of my grandmother's health for the remaining 25 years of her life."
"My aunt suffered a heart episode that left her comatose for a week. From the middle-of-the-night phone call alerting us all to the situation until one miraculous day in the ICU at UK Med Center, we had no idea if she'd wake up."
"My mom has a heart condition that has affected her daily life in small ways, but we always know it's there."
Makes it a little more real, doesn't it?
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. Here are some scary-assed statistics from the Go Red for Women foundation:
- Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
- 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
- Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen.
- The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women vs. men, and are often misunderstood.
- While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
The Bluegrass State is pretty notorious for poor cardiovascular health. According to the CDC,more than 1 out of 4 deaths in Kentucky are due to heart disease.
These are very real, very sobering statistics. This February, please stop to think about all the heart logos you see -- the Valentine's Day ads and the Go Red for Women events. Wear red for yourself and those you love. If you're out looking for last minute Godiva at the mall today, participate in Macy's Go Red Campaign. But most of all, educate yourself. Talk with your doctor about your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Make healthier choices in your diet and exercise. These are all changes you know you should make anyway.
It's not just for you. It's for everyone on your Valentine's Day list.