Going Red for the Women in My Life

I like to think of myself as a typical guy. Weekends are filled with lots of sports, we don’t like reading instructions and we especially hate to admit there are things we don’t know.

But sometimes we need to.

I came to this realization in October when I started working for the American Heart Association. Ever since my teenage years I’ve tried to live a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising. We all know it’s what we’re supposed to do. I didn’t truly understand why though.

This February, the American Heart Association is asking everyone to Go Red For Women, a national movement to end heart disease and stroke in women. Heart disease and stroke kill one in three women. That’s more than all cancers combined, and equals approximately one woman every 80 seconds.

Seeing those numbers in black and white was a real eye-opener and finally provided my “why”. It made me think about the women in my life I care about the most: my wife, mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, friends, and extended family. They wear so many hats, it’s hard to keep them all straight. Teacher. Business owner. Writer. Chef. Nurse. Coach. Caregiver. The list could go on. They come from many walks of life, but in every case they’re always putting others before themselves.

This February though it’s time to flip that script and make sure they focus on themselves. The good news about those stark statistics is that 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. The American Heart Association recommends scheduling a Well-Woman Visit, a scheduled prevention check-up to review a woman’s overall health so her doctor can measure blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses.

Following the AHA’a Life’s Simple 7™ guidelines is also key:

  1. Manage blood pressure
  2. Control cholesterol
  3. Reduce blood sugar
  4. Get active
  5. Eat better
  6. Lose weight
  7. Stop smoking

And here’s some good news! Women who are involved with the Go Red For Women movement live healthier lives. Today, in the United States, about 285 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day. Cardiovascular disease death in women has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.

I may not like reading instructions, but this is one set I won’t ignore. I want to make sure the women who mean the most to me are able to live long, healthy lives. I hope you’ll join me in supporting the Go Red For Women movement.

sean_dreher_headshotSean Dreher has been the communications director for the Toledo and Northwest Ohio Division of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association since 2015.