Heartfelt message from Greenwich: Wear red to promote women’s heart disease awareness
GREENWICH — When selecting your outfit for Friday, the town of Greenwich has a suggestion. How about red?
The town is participating in Feb. 2’s National Wear Red Day, a day when people show their support for women’s heart disease awareness by wearing red. The town suggests wearing a red dress, a red shirt, a red necktie or simply a “red dress” pin.
As more people participate, the town said, it helps to put a human face on heart disease. According to town Director of Health Caroline Baisley, the event is especially important because it can motivate women to take their heart health seriously and take steps to reduce the risk of heart disease.
“Many women think heart disease is a man’s disease, but it isn’t,” Baisley said. “Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and most women fail to make the connections between heart disease factors and their personal risk of developing the disease.”
Red dress pins will be available at Town Hall, where free blood pressure and total cholesterol screenings will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon Friday in the lobby.
Fasting is not necessary for the free total cholesterol screenings, which involves a small prick of the finger for a blood sample.
In addition, the health department will provide materials on risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, being overweight or diabetic, and a lack of physical exercise. Handouts on healthy nutrition will also be distributed.
The Wear Red Day events enjoy a good turnout. Deborah Travers, director of family health for the town, said 20 to 40 people usually take advantage of the free tests. The Town Hall lobby is used to attract passersby as the town pushes the public education component of the event, Travers said.
“I think it’s extremely important,” she said. “You have to raise awareness in all people about heart health, especially women. Women may not be aware of all the risk factors, and it is so important for us to be vigilant about our own health and our own bodies, not just for ourselves but for those we love.”
The annual program has had a presence at Town Hall, Travers said, since its national inception in 2004.
Public health nurses will be in the town’s hypertension clinic, which is located on the third floor of Town Hall, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Friday. They are regularly on hand to provide free blood pressure screenings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States as one in every three deaths is from heart disease or stroke, equaling 2,200 deaths a day. Heart disease is also a leading cause of disabilities that prevent people from working and enjoying family activities.
For women, heart disease claims the life of someone every 80 seconds in the United States. Nearly 80 percent of those cases can be prevented with education and action, though. Knowing the signs and symptoms of heart disease is “crucial to ensure the most positive outcomes after having a heart attack” for women, the town said.
The town’s health department warned that women who have heart attacks may not experience direct chest pain but instead may feel chest discomfort such as pressure, squeezing or fullness. Pain can also occur in the right arm, back, neck, shoulder or throat. Other symptoms include vomiting, nausea, pressure, fatigue, shortness of breath, feeling cold, sweating or lightheadedness.
A healthy diet and controlling risk factors such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol are ways to fight against heart disease, but the town also urged women to talk to their doctors about it, too.