Valentine’s Day has become known as the day for celebrating romantic love. But the heart became associated with romantic love only recently, historically speaking. According to this video from Mental Floss, ancient cultures in Egypt, Greece, and Mexico actually thought of the heart as the source of life. This Friday, and all month long, people across the state and the country are raising awareness about the importance of heart health as a component of a long, healthy, happy life by celebrating Go Red for Women Day and American Heart Month.
Senate Resolution No. 15, introduced to the California State Senate by Senators Leyva, Atkins, Bates, Fuller, Galgiani, Mitchell, and Nguyen, list the numerous reasons to observe Go Red Day and Heart Month. The resolution notes:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease and stroke account for more than 30 percent of all female deaths in California
- According to 2010 research by the CDC, on average, almost 100 women die from heart disease and stroke in California each day
- 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke, yet 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be prevented
- Only 36 percent of African American women and 34 percent of Hispanic women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk, compared with 65 percent of Caucasian women
The resolution “urges all citizens to show their support for women and the fight against heart disease by commemorating this day [February 3] by wearing the color red. By increasing awareness, speaking up about heart disease, and empowering women to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, we can save thousands of lives each year.”
In addition to wearing red this Friday, we hope you raise awareness in other ways throughout the month. Here are some heart health tips the Go Red for Women website recommends for women over 60, and some ideas for incorporating these into your communities this month:
Know Your Risk and Your Numbers
Some risk factors, such as genetics, can’t be controlled, but others, such as smoking or an unhealthy diet, can. To help your residents and employees understand their risk for heart disease, distribute this risk factor quiz for them to fill out.
To help complete the risk factor quiz and get a full picture of someone’s heart health, there are a few very important numbers you need to know: cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body mass index. Host a “Heart Health Reception” and invite a doctor or nurse to give blood pressure screenings and talk with residents and employees about heart health.
Exercise is a great way to lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Most communities already have great exercise programs for residents, and many CALA members have wellness programs for their employees as well. Why not combine these two? For instance, encourage employees and residents to join a “Walking Club” in honor of heart health this month.
Eat Heart-Healthy Meals
In addition to exercise, diet is an important factor in heart health. Go Red for Women has gathered some healthy and delicious recipes to try this month. You can also show off the tasty, healthy meals in your own community by hosting a special lunch or dinner for the public. Have your chef give a demonstration and talk about heart-healthy food choices, then end it with a delicious meal!