2007_2_health_heart.jpgWhen you get up early tomorrow to see if Punxsutawney Phil or Staten Island Chuck see their shadows, try to remember to put on something red! February is American Heart Month and the American Heart Association (AHA) is launching the HEART for Women campaign to raise awareness. And the AHA is encouraging everyone to wear red this Friday to spread the word.

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in women, leading to almost 350,000 deaths in this country annually. Other gloomy stats:

Heart disease is the #1 killer of women and stroke is the #3 killer of women. Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more women than the next five causes of death combined. Since 1979, the death rate for heart disease in men has declined by 17%, but the death rate for women has slightly increased over this same time period.

Minority women are particularly at risk for heart disease and stroke. For example, nearly half of African American women (45%) have some form of cardiovascular disease, compared to 32 percent of white women. More than 90% of primary care physicians don’t know that heart disease kills more women each year than men.

Women are less likely than men to receive certain diagnostic testing and treatments, such as angioplasties and stents, for cardiovascular diseases.

Drug and medical device effectiveness may differ in women and men, yet doctors and researchers often don’t know how safe and effective a particular medicine or device is for women.

The full fact sheet is available here.

In response, Congress introduced the HEART for Women Act last Valentine's Day. It's a bill aimed at:

1. Raising awareness among women and their health care providers.
2. Providing gender and race-specific information for clinicians and researchers.
3. Improving screening for low-income women at risk for heart disease and stroke.

To help ensure that the legislation passes quickly, log-in to www.heartforwomen.org and sign the petition. The site also lets you send a letter to Senators Schumer and Clinton imploring them to support the bill.

To learn more about women and heart disease and how you can become an advocate, click here. You can also get a quick on-line check up, here.

And be sure to wear red tomorrow!