According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. In 2003, the AHA launched Go Red for Women, a public awareness campaign to help women assess their personal risk for heart disease and stroke and encourage them to make healthy lifestyle changes to lower their risk of the disease.
Wednesday morning, Sparks Mayor Geno Martini, Reno Vice Mayor Dan Gustin and Nevada’s first lady Kathleen Sandoval joined local cardiologist Dr. Sridevi Challapalli to kick off heart month by speaking at a press conference at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.
Too often women are busy taking care of others to assess their own health, Challapalli said.
“Heart disease doesn’t recognize age or other boundaries,” Sandoval said. “Join me in ‘going red’ by exercising more and eating healthier … and in saving lives one Nevada woman at a time.”
“I know how important this is,” Gustin said Wednesday, adding that his father died in his late 50s from heart disease. “I’m pleased to be here and support your effort.”
Gustin read a proclamation urging citizens of Reno to celebrate national Wear Red Day on Friday.
“Cardiovascular diseases claims the lives of almost 460,000 American women, about one death per minute, each year,” Gustin said. “And each year, 53 percent of all cardiovascular disease deaths occur in females, as compared to 47 percent in men, and about 32,500 more females than males die from a stroke.”
Since February is American Heart Month, Gustin encouraged women to take precautions.
“All women should learn their own personal risk for heart disease, using tools such as the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Heart Checkup and by talking to their health care provider,” he said.
Martini presented a similar proclamation on behalf of the city of Sparks and said awareness of cardiovascular disease is an issue close to his own heart.
“I’m a survivor,” Martini said.
The AHA has an interactive website with tools to assess one’s risk for heart disease, http://mylifecheck.heart.org. The My Life Check Simple 7 Success Plan is based on knowledge of AHA medical experts and can help the user find their risk factors and what types of lifestyle changes can be made for improved heart health.
An ideal My Life Check heart score is 10. The assessment takes into account family history, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, weight, physical activity, exposure to tobacco smoke, diabetes and birth control methods to determine risk of heart disease and stroke.
Upon completion of the test, the user can print or save their results, along with health improvement advice from the AHA.
Since 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, the AHA’s theme for heart month this year is “Make it Your Mission” to fight heart disease in women.
Research shows that women who participate in Go Red are more likely to make healthy changes in their lives, an AHA release states. For example, more than one-third have lost weight; nearly 50 percent have increased their exercise; six out of 10 have changed their diets; more than 40 percent have checked their cholesterol levels; and one-third have talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
In addition to personal heart health awareness, an important factor in saving lives is knowing what to do if someone is experiencing a cardiac event. Lisa Harper of the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) also was in attendance at Wednesday’s conference and gave a demonstration of hands-only CPR.
“Eighty percent of cardiac arrest happens in the home,” Harper said, where family members trained in CPR can save the life of their loved one. “We’re trying to raise awareness of hands-only CPR because a lot of people do not want to do mouth to mouth.”
Harper explained hands-only CPR involves using hard and fast compressions to the middle of the chest. The hands-only technique was developed by the AHA in 2008 and usually is as effective in emergency situations as the more familiar methods of CPR.
In addition to Wear Red Day, several events will take place in Reno and Sparks to raise heart health awareness:
• REMSA will be offering free CPR awareness classes and a health fair beginning at 10 a.m. on Feb. 12 at Scheels at Legends at Sparks Marina.
• Heart and Stroke Day at the Legislature will take place Feb. 24 in the Carson City Legislative Building in room 3100. All heart disease and stroke survivors, caretakers, parents, students, health and business professionals, concerned citizens and policy makers are invited. Light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Wear red to the event and RSVP to Chris or Monique at 702-367-1366.
• A Go Red for Women luncheon and health expo will take place beginning at 10 a.m. on March 4 at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. Speaker Rudy Wilson Galdonik, a heart disease survivor, will use humor to educate attendees about heart health. For tickets or more information, call Tiffany East at 686-7805 or Tamara Jankovic at 327-3000.