In honor of this years Snowdowns theme, Once Upon a Snowdown, there was a woman who wore a red hooded cape. She walked through a forest to her grandmothers house. However, she instead found a wolf in her grandmothers clothing.
Metaphorically, lets say her grandmother died of heart disease, and the wolf waiting for Little Red Riding Hood was a warning that she, too, may be at risk of dying from heart disease. So Red threw away the cigarettes and the gooey sweet rolls in her basket and went right to her doctor to protect her heart by getting screened for other risk factors.
Along with tobacco use, diet and obesity, risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, alcohol and genetics. Although this disease is largely preventable, it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, it is the No. 1 killer of women nationwide and in La Plata County. Nationally, a woman suffers a heart attack every 90 seconds.
Friday is national Wear Red Day. Americans will wear red to show support for womens heart health, while bringing greater awareness of prevalence heart disease among women and how to prevent it.
Its vital that individuals get early screening and education before they have actual health issues, said Karen Forest, program coordinator for San Juan Basin Healths Promoviendo La Salud.
Of people the program screens, 60 percent have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Of these, Forest says 40 percent have been able to lower their risk by the next screening three to six months later.
We primarily work with them in changing lifestyle behaviors by providing education and support around healthy eating, exercise and stress reduction, she said. When that doesnt work, clients are still able to prevent complications down the line with medication.
Forest used to oversee another screening and education program, Colorado Heart Healthy Solutions, which encouraged people to know your numbers. A local community health worker tested blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight at no cost and provided suggestions about improving that persons health and using local resources. While grant funding for this program ended two years ago, Forest says people may visit the interactive website, health-e-solutions.org, to find out their risk for heart disease.
So Friday, support national Wear Red Day by putting on a favorite red dress, red shirt, red tie, Red Dress Pin or even a red hooded cape for the Snowdown parade. We cant always live in a fairy tale world so, if you dont know your numbers, make an appointment with your health-care provider and get someone you love to do the same. If you have a risk factor, start looking at what you can do to ensure you are heart healthy.
To learn more about Wear Red Day, heart disease risk factors, warning signs and becoming heart healthy, visit: www.cdc.gov/Features/WearRed.
Jane Looney is the communications director for the San Juan Basin Health Department.