Heart disease also is one of the easiest diseases to prevent. To inspire women this year to take better care of their hearts, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium's WISEWOMAN program is celebrating National Heart Month in February and National Wear Red Day on Feb. 1.
By knowing their heart screening numbers - their blood pressures, cholesterol levels, glucose levels, etc. - and working to keep those numbers in check, women in Southeast Alaska can reduce their risk of premature death or disability. Cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, is the No. 1 cause of death for American and Alaskan women. But the risks can be reduced.
"Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in cardiovascular health," said Nancy Knapp, the coordinator for SEARHC's WISEWOMAN program. "Women can reduce their risk by not using tobacco, eating well, and being active for 30 minutes a day."
Feb. 1, is National Wear Red Day. Organizers encourage women to wear red to show their pledge to take care of their heart.
"Eat red food - berries, apples, cherries, tomatoes and salmon. Leave red kisses on someone's cheek. Dance in red regalia. Laugh so hard your face turns red!"
During National Heart Month, SEARHC will be hosting several National Wear Red Day celebrations. The events feature heart health educational materials from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Heart Truth campaign, supplied by the Office of Women's Health.
Lobby displays will be at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, at the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau, at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock and at the Haines Health Center.
SEARHC's Kake and Angoon clinics also are organizing National Wear Red Day celebrations. Some SEARHC communities may have additional events planned for National Wear Red Day and National Heart Month, such as incentives for women who join a gym, quit smoking, or participate in any SEARHC fitness or nutrition activity.
The SEARHC WISEWOMAN program is part of a national cardiovascular health campaign for women funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
WISEWOMAN - which stands for Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation - is designed to provide any woman age 30-64 of limited income or insurance access to health services so they can delay or prevent cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. These services include clinical screening and follow-up for cardiovascular risks and support for making lifestyle changes to support heart health.
Contact the SEARHC WISEWOMAN program with questions about support and eligibility in your community. For details of specific activities in your SEARHC community, call 1-888-388-8782 (toll-free in Alaska).