National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 3, The U.S. Heart Association, the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, health care workers and Kathleen Tuitt, who is a certified health education specialist, are asking the women of the Virgin Islands and those who love them to wear something red on Friday. For those of you who have not heard of the movement you may ask why this is important? The statistics speak for themselves. In the United States and here at home, cardiovascular disease kills 1 in 3 women annually. A lot of these women are in their productive years (AHA, 2017).
For those who are not aware, diseases of the heart and strokes (cardiovascular disease) kill more women every year than all cancers combined. As a result we cannot stay silent or pretend we do not understand. Some of the critical risk factors that contribute to these facts are your age, family history, ethnicity, high blood pressure, diabetes, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and cigarette smoking. There is good news however. Over 80 percent of cardiovascular disease can be prevented by addressing the modifiable risk factors that cause this chronic disease (AHA, 2017; WHO, 2017).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the American Heart Association (AHA) have divided the risk factors that contribute to cardiac events as un-modifiable and modifiable. Of course, we cannot do anything about our age, family history or ethnicity. However, we have control over the modifiable factors such as moving more, sitting less, eating nutritious meals, not smoking or binge drinking, managing stress and knowing our numbers (AHA, 2017; WHO, 2017; CDC, 2017).
Five numbers that all women in the territory should know by heart are their blood pressure, blood sugar, total cholesterol, their body mass index and their waist circumference. By knowing these numbers and writing them down when we visit the doctor, we can know if they are normal or out of range. Women should endeavor once knowing their numbers to work with their doctor, health coach, or health worker to determine their risk and to bring abnormal numbers back into range. For example, for a woman her waist circumference should be 35 inches or less (AHA, 2017; CDC, 2017).
Do not keep this information to yourself. Spread the news, work with your health care provider, and visit http://www.goredforwomen.org to learn steps that you can take to reduce your risks for developing cardiovascular disease. Many companies around the territory will be celebrating. At the Legislature there will be many activities organized by the staff and the Office of Senator Janet Milling Young.
Editor’s note: Kathleen Tuitt, CHES, is a certified health education specialist.
American Heart Association (AHA). (2017). About Heart Disease in Women. Retrieved from Go Red for Women
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017). Lower Your Risk for the Number 1 Killer of Women. Retrieved from We Are Red
World Health Organization (WHO). (2017). Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Retrieved from Media Center Factsheets