For most of us, the holiday season is a time filled with family and friends. My family is large and 15 dear women graced the holiday table this year. These women are a part of the fabric of my life and I was immersed in the rhythm that is family. The joy of the moment was marred only by the bittersweet absence of two beloved grandmothers who’ve passed on.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, taking the life of one in three women every year. As I gazed upon these women who are such a part of my life and listened to their laughter, it occurred to me that without intervention, five of us will die a premature death as the result of heart disease. The thought that even one of us could be lost prematurely to a preventable disease is not only incomprehensible but certainly unacceptable. Because losing even one, much less five of these dear women is completely out of the question, my heart health resolutions this year begin with them in mind:
1. Tell those you love about heart disease. By eliminating or reducing your risk factors, heart disease is controllable and preventable. This year, I’ll ensure that the women in my life have access to information and programs which will enable them to make better heart health choices such as:
* Go Red For Women (www.goredforwomen.org)
* BetterU Makeover (http://www.goredforwomen.org/BetterU/index.aspx)
* Well Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation or “WISEWOMAN” (http://www.goredforwomen.org/BetterU/index.aspx)
* Start! (http://startwalkingnow.org/home.jsp
* The Heart Truth campaigns (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/partners/women-of-color-partners.htm)
* My Life Check - Live Better With Life’s Simple 7 (http://mylifecheck.heart.org/Multitab.aspx?NavID=3&CultureCode=en-US)
2. Know your personal risk factors for heart disease. Many women remain blissfully unaware of their risk factors for heart disease. If you don’t know your own risk factors, take the time to find out where you heart health stands. If you already know your risk factors, conduct an annual assessment to see how you are currently doing.