By Nicholas Conley | February 7, 2020 | 3 Minute Read
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Someone suffers a heart attack about every forty seconds, according to the CDC, and about 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. Cardiovascular ailments impact everyone, but differences in genetics, socioeconomic status, and gender play key roles in survival rates. For instance, as cardiologist Dr. Paula Johnson often notes, the “textbook” heart attack symptoms only apply to men, while women often display different symptoms.
Knowledge is power. That’s why February is designated as American Heart Month and why February 7th marks National Wear Red Day 2020, an event for which millions of people across the country go red to raise awareness about heart disease, speak up about the risks—particularly for women—and, hopefully, save lives.
A Red History
According to the American College of Cardiology, February was officially designated as American Heart Month back in 1963 through a presidential proclamation from Lyndon B. Johnson. The following year saw the landmark release of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, finally solidifying the link between cigarettes, heart disease, and lung cancer. Over the decades, numerous public and private health organizations have used the month of February to bring awareness to the cardiovascular risks posed by smoking and to help lower the national rates of death. In fact, the medical research journal Circulation Research published a study in 2017 crediting the decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke as “the success story of the century’s last four decades.”
That said, heart disease remains America’s biggest killer. In the United States, one in four deaths continues to be caused by heart disease. The CDC estimates that 805,000 Americans have heart attacks every year.
Women, though, suffer an even greater risk than men. The figures are shocking: one in three American women die from heart disease, according to the American Heart Association, and though men experience heart attacks at younger ages than women, women are less likely to survive, a disparity sometimes called the “heart attack gender gap.”
These harsh realities fueled the creation of “The Heart Truth” in 2002. It’s a federally-sponsored campaign that sought to increase awareness about the risks posed to women by heart disease as well as the movement’s symbol, the Red Dress, which is now recognized across the country. By putting an image to a cause, the Red Dress paved the way for National Wear Red Day, an annual event where people wear red to show their support for women with heart disease and to raise awareness about its dangers. Through fundraisers, events, rallies, and media campaigns, the Red Dress has helped people across the country to better know the risks, to inform others, and to take action in their own lives.
How You Can Get Involved on National Wear Red Day
The first thing you can do to honor this event is, of course, to wear red.
Eastern Give For Good makes it easy to support the American Heart Association by allowing you to donate right from your Eastern Mobile Banking app.
There are also plenty of other ways to join in, even after February ends. For instance, supporters who work in the medical field can attend Harvard Medical School’s weekend course titled Cardiovascular Disease and Global Health Equity, while those located further north can head to Portland, Maine on March 19th for the 2020 Portland Go Red Luncheon. Finally, on May 9th, join the 2020 Central MA Heart & Stroke Walk at Quinsigamond State Park in Worcester, where you can donate and walk to show your support for heart disease research, heart disease cures, and heart disease victims across New England, the United States, and the world.
Join us in wearing red to help build awareness for Women’s Heart Health.