WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Heart disease is the number one killer of women, according to the American Heart Association.
Through its Go Red for Women campaign for American Heart Month, the group is spreading the word that up to 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with healthier diets and more exercise.
Dr. Cintasha Redmond, a neurologist at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, says women should focus with their primary care physicians on heart health numbers for body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol.
“We have this whole thing about watching your numbers during this month, and most people say, you know, ‘What does that mean?'” Redmond relates. “‘What do you mean by know my numbers?’ That if you have diabetes, or if you don’t know you have diabetes, you need to do the appropriate testing.”
Redmond was a panelist at this weekend’s Red Dress Tea in Winston-Salem.
Close to 45 percent of U.S. deaths caused by heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes are the result of poor eating habits, including too much salt and sugary drinks, and not enough fresh fruits and vegetables.
Among African-American women in North Carolina, about one in four cardiovascular deaths occur before age 65, compared to about one in 10 among white women, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Redmond says community events like the Red Dress Tea help women understand the warning signs.
Almost 20 African-American churches co-sponsored this year’s event, which Redmond says will help share the health disparity information.
“And basically, this focus is on the community,” she states. “Communities are a group of people who can influence and encourage and watch out for one another, motivate one another – specifically the church community.”
The American Heart Association says black women have the highest prevalence of stroke, and almost half have some form of heart disease.
Among women who decide to Go Red, the Heart Association says 95 percent report making at least one healthy lifestyle change in the last year.
Redmond says the goal is to make heart health a monthly priority.
“And we hope that it won’t just be a February project,” she stresses. “We hope that will be a call to action to women in United States and just around the world to just be more cognizant about your eating habits, watching your numbers.”
More than 3.6 million women also interact with the Go Red campaign through digital platforms annually.
For more information, visit heart.org.