In the time it takes you to read halfway through this blog, someone’s mother, daughter, sister, aunt or grandmother will die from heart disease.
Not quite two years ago, I nearly became one of those victims, suffering a major heart attack while on a business trip. Fortunately, I survived with no significant scar tissue and everything still in good working order. I do have three stents in my heart and I serve actively as the best example of how to do it all wrong when you have symptoms that may be heart related. I only wish I had paid more attention to The American Heart Association and their annual “Go Red Day”!
An annual campaign that takes place on the first Friday in February, Wear Red Day serves to increase awareness of heart disease in the workplace, promote prevention of heart disease, and raise funds for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Movement. You and your organization can participate by hosting your own Wear Red Day.
Why should you support Wear Red Day? Here are some sobering statistics:
Coronary heart disease and stroke represent the #1 and #3 killers of women over age 25 in America. Although one in 30 women die of breast cancer, more than one in three die from cardiovascular disease. Every year, nearly half a million women lose their lives to this terrible, treatable, and often preventable, disease.
But supporting Wear Red Day can also be good for your business. Research has shown that 80% of consumers are likely to switch brands that are similar in price and quality when one of those brands supports a cause. Three-fourths of Americans consider a company’s commitment to social issues when deciding where to work. And of the 220,000 incidences of sudden cardiac arrest per year in the United States, about 10,000 occur at work. Learning more about the disease could save the life of a valued employee.
How can you support Wear Read Day?
First, note that your event doesn’t have to take place on February 4th. You can host a Wear Red Day event on any day during February that works for you. Also, your Wear Red Day event can be as simple or elaborate as you choose. For example:
- Ask employees to donate $5 to the Go Red For Women movement. Those who contribute can wear jeans/dress down/take a longer lunch on your Wear Red Day.
- Invite an employee with a personal or family experience with heart disease to speak at an educational lunch session, and include educational handouts.
- Provide a heart healthy snack break and have employees donate $5 to participate.
The official Wear Red Day Tool Kit has all of the resources you need to make your event a success, including instructions, downloadable templates to help you get the message out, posters, fact sheets, newsletters and helpful tips. To download the kit, visit the Go Red for Women website at www.goredforwomen.org/wearredday.
Perhaps the most important part for all of us is learning to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack. Mine started with shortness of breath and a sharp pain in my chest, which I attributed to walking up a long flight of stairs with a 30 pound backpack on my back. It wasn’t until I was up all night throwing up with intense pain in my back that I drove an hour and a half home to seek medical help. Even then, I thought the urgent care doctor was overreacting a bit when he did an EKG, put me in an ambulance and sent me directly to the hospital! Fortunately, I was properly diagnosed and received excellent care from the emergency room team.
To learn more about the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke, visit the American Heart Association website at www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Conditions_UCM_305346_SubHomePage.jsp. If you even think you might be having a heart attack, get to a doctor or emergency room as quickly as possible! And don’t do what I did (drive yourself), call an ambulance!
Since that rude awakening nearly two years ago, I have been exercising more and learning how to meditate – both of which help to reduce the heart rate, normalize blood pressure, enhance breathing, reduce stress hormones, and strengthen the body’s immune system. The experience has also given me a renewed focus on supporting clients in winning due to greater clarity of how precious our time and energy is.
With your support of Wear Red Day we can raise awareness of this important issue, create a passionate call-to-action, and generate funds to support education and research. I thank you from the bottom (and stents) of my heart for helping to make a difference in this important effort!