The red dress stands for the prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD), the number one killer of women according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CHD is the cause of 1 out of every 4 female deaths; that’s 25%. Although many people think of heart disease as a “man’s disease,” the same numbers of men and women die from CHD. And, two-thirds of women who die suddenly of CHD have no previous symptoms. Even if you do not have symptoms you may be at risk.
Stephanie Sabotka, a 39-year-old mother of five, came home from traveling on Saturday, shoveled snow on Tuesday, played tennis on Wednesday, experienced chest pain and heart attack on Thursday and had open heart surgery on Friday.
She knew she had a history of heart disease with both her mother and father, but as an active 39-year-old she felt she didn’t have to worry. Looking back, she wishes she would have taken her family history seriously and known her numbers. Armed with that information she may have been able to prevent a heart attack.
Risk factors for CHD include:
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol levels, and
The CDC suggests almost half of all Americans have at least one of these risk factors. Other conditions also lead to heart disease:
- Being overweight or obese
- Eating a poor diet
- Being physically inactive
- Excessive use of alcohol
All women can take simple steps to improve their heart health, and knowing your numbers and acting on that knowledge is the best way to prevent CHD.
Simple tests at your doctor’s office that will help you know your numbers include:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar levels.
- Waist circumference
To further reduce your risk, stay active, eat healthy foods, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake, and lower your stress levels.