Friday is National Wear Red Day; UHC Launches Campaign to Encourage Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

By Julie Perine on February 06, 2020 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Girls, deck out in your red Friday. The National Wear Red Day - recognized the first Saturday in February - empowers women and is designed to create a sisterhood of passionate women united by a common goal: Ending cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in women.
 
“Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined,” said Sarah Bolyard, West Virginia Executive Director at American Heart Association. “It is one day to make an impact and create awareness. Hopefully, even one woman will go to the doctor more regularly or notice symptoms associated with a heart attack. Women don’t always put themselves first and it’s one day to focus on ourselves.”
 
Cheryl Farley, RN, BSN, manager of UHC Cardiac Rehab has been at United Hospital Center nearly 28 years. She truly loves being an advocate for women's health. 
 
"There’s no better feeling than seeing patients get better,” she said. “They come in after they have had a heart attack, bypass surgery, had stints put in or a transplant. They may be very debilitated when start the program, but 12 weeks later we see them back enjoying life, doing what they want to do.”
 
Relationships are built during patients’ time at the 12-week Phase 2 program and the subsequent Phase 3 maintenance program that is available to them.
 
“Every nurse in our department has a heart of gold. They love what they do,” Farley said. “You have to have the right personality to fit into the job.”
 
Though it’s very rewarding to see patients get better after a heart event, it’s rewarding - and vital - to help prevent such a condition from occurring.
 
That’s where the Go Red for Women campaign comes in.
 
Starting 15 years ago as a campaign featuring a little red dress lapel pin, it has grown to be much more.
 
“It began for awareness – that women do develop heart disease – but it has become more educational, telling women what signs and symptoms to watch for and how to prevent it,” Farley said.
 
Heart disease symptoms among women include angina (dull and heavy or sharp chest pain or discomfort); neck, jaw or throat pain and pain in the upper abdomen or back.
 
The symptoms may occur during rest or during regular daily activities. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
 
Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking. About half of all people in the U.S. have at least one of these three risk factors. Other medical conditions and lifestyle choices putting individuals at higher risk for heart disease include diabetes, obesity, eating an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and consuming too much alcohol.
 
There are some risk factors – such as family history and age – that can’t be controlled, but there is much women can do to help prevent heart disease, Farley said.
 
Eating healthy meals and exercising regularly are two major ways.
 
“If we can get people to be more active and exercise 150 to 180 minutes a week – whether that’s on an elliptical, treadmill or outside walking, that would make a big difference,” Farley said. “And exercise portion control.”
 
The typical portion served at many restaurants is more than double what the body really needs. Farley suggests ordering a box right along with your entrée and packing some to take home right away.
 
Another important facet of Go Red for Women is making resources available to women. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute offer a tip sheet: 28 Days Towards a Healthy Heart that touches on creating a heart-healthy diet by limiting salt and sugar, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; incorporating regular walking or other fitness activities into your life; seeing your physician regularly and conversing freely with him or her about your health and any symptoms noticed and refraining from smoking. A copy can be downloaded at nhlbi.nih.gov/heartmonth.
 
The Go Red for Women campaign has in recent years picked up momentum in West Virginia, Bolyard said.
 
“I do think women here are getting on board and taking notice. West Virginia does have the highest rate of obesity and blood pressure across the country,” she said. “We hope it continues to make women take the steps they need to take to be healthier and focus more on health and themselves.”
 
Red is the color that comes to mind when one thinks of the heart, but there is another reason the color is ideal for the campaign, Farley said.
 
"Women feel special when they wear red and we hope they will also feel special about their heart - and take good care of it," she said.
 
Cardiac nurses and members of the media gathered in mid-January for a “Go Red for Women” photo shoot.
 
“We try to do these in all the major markets in West Virginia to create awareness. That’s the whole purpose of ‘Go Red for Women,’” Bolyard said. “We’re real lucky that UHC supports it here.”
 
UHC is utilizing photos from the January shoot to create awareness about "Go Red for Women" and utilizing the month of Febrary to create habits for healthier hearts. 



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