For many of us February means Valentine’s Day, a holiday that surely evokes a specific set of memories. We’re well aware of everything heart-shaped and love-related: seeing decorations, planning new romantic encounters, or even trying to avoid the commercialized push toward chocolates and roses. Why do we use the symbol of a heart to represent love? Well, maybe it’s because our hearts are centrally located on our bodies, keep us alive, and react to certain situations very strongly with a responsive heartbeat. Our hearts keep us alive and make us feel alive as well. We’ve long considered our souls to be manifest in the heart. And as February continues, some of us are reminded of love and others are reminded of heartache. But the important part is that we are being conscious of our hearts.
In fact, February is American Heart Month. This month we recognize the importance of heart health, the dangers of heart disease, and spread awareness about everything heart-related. Though unpleasant to consider, heart disease has been the number one killer of Americans since 1900. And despite important medical advances and increasing knowledge about our hearts – every year millions of people still suffer heart attacks and other heart related emergencies. Every day nearly 2,500 people die of heart illnesses.
American Heart Month is especially relevant for women. Women account for 51% of all heart-related deaths. And recent studies have shown that men may receive more heart-related attention from doctors and given “preventive therapies such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin therapy and cardiac rehabilitation to protect them against heart attacks and death.” It’s scary to think that this might be true, even though women are just as likely to die from heart disease. Despite this unsettling information, lately I have seen an increase in heart awareness for women. And the more we know the better we will feel.
A great way to show your support and consideration of heart illnesses and all those who have died from heart disease is to wear red this Friday, February 6th 2009 to honor Women’s Heart Day. The American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” has been going on for at least the last 7 years and gaining momentum every year. For example, Macy’s is offering special savings for any customer wearing red this Friday. And across the country people are organizing their own Wear Red Day events at their workplaces or local community centers. Tiny red dress pins are being sold at numerous locations and a great way to keep awareness going all month long.
So this Friday, celebrate your heart – be sure to wear red and be on the lookout for others in red too. Do a little research, have a conversation with someone, and remember those who deal with heart problems. Our hearts and minds don’t have to be at odds. Just by being aware of our risk we can be prepared to live better. And that’s certainly something to love.