WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That’s why this month is dedicated to raising awareness and fighting back.
It’s American Heart Month and to kick it off, today is dedicated to the American Heart Association (AHA) movement, Go Red for Women.
The day is Go Red Day and everyone can participate by wearing red to raise awareness for women’s heart health.
The reason for that is because heart disease is the number one killer of women, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
The good news is that 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes.
There’s five key numbers all women should know to prevent cardiac events, according to the American Heart Association.
- Total cholesterol
- HDL (good) cholesterol
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
- Body mass index (BMI)
“It’s knowing your numbers and knowing your health consciousness of what you’re eating,” said Tammy Taylor-Lindholm. “You can’t just go out and eat hamburgers every day. You need to make sure you get those veggies and fruits and everything in too.”
Everyone can play a part in making those lifestyle changes but for Taylor-Lindholm, the cause is more personal.
“I go red because my dad passed away. I’m a spitting image of him,” the AHA volunteer said. “I have a 14 year old son and a husband that I need to be heart healthy for because I have many more vacations and many more birthdays that I need to see.”
For Taylor-Lindholm, being heart healthy means no caffeine, less salt and exercising regularly, but even people without a predisposition can afford to be more aware, she said.
Heart disease can impact men and women of all ages and lifestyles, according to the AHA.
There’s seven basic things people can do to help themselves:
- Get active
- Control your cholesterol
- Eat better
- Manage your blood pressure
- Lose weight
- Reduce your blood sugar
- Stop smoking
“The heart is very much a pump,” said Charity Clark, a practice manager for the Heart Failure Clinic at Via Christi. “It supplies the blood throughout your body. It’s one of the most important organs in our body and we all need to take care of it.”
While today is geared toward wearing red to support Go Red for Women, there are events all month-long across Wichita to support the cause.
“Just having that month really brings awareness to the community, it brings awareness to maybe those that don’t think about it; those who have never been impacted by a cardiac event, those that have never had maybe signs or symptoms, those that are living healthy lives,” Clark said.
In honor of American Heart Month, the entrance at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis will remain lit red.
Also happening this month at Via Christi, all babies born at the Newlife Center at St. Joseph will get a hand-knitted red cap as part of the AHA “Little Hats, Big Hearts” campaign.
The Wichita Thunder is also getting involved. The team will raise both awareness and funds for heart disease at their “Go Red” game on February 10.
You can find discount vouchers for the game at Wichita Hospital Gift Shops.
On Tuesday, February 14, the AHA will host its annual Breakfast in Red. The event is free and will introduce the community to their mission and extra resources.
The Wichita Public Library will also participate in American Heart Month by hosting special story times geared towards heart health and healthy diets.