PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
February 6, 2014

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Wear Red for Women's Heart Health

In recognition of February as National Heart Month and February 7 as National Wear Red Day, Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd encouraged both women and men to pledge to make heart-healthy lifestyle choices to live longer and stronger and to help reduce their risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in New Jersey and the U.S.

"Each year, about 420,000 women in the U.S. die of cardiovascular disease - or about one every minute,'' said Commissioner O'Dowd. "For more than a decade, the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign has worked to raise awareness and encourage women to make lifestyle changes that lead to more active, healthy lives. I encourage everyone to wear red on Friday, February 7th."

In addition, First Lady Mary Pat Christie has announced that Drumthwacket, the Governor's official residence, will "go red" the evening of February 7th to spotlight the importance of women's heart health.

"The 11th anniversary of National Wear Red Day is an opportunity to empower, inform and protect the heart health of our mothers, daughters, friends and acquaintances," said First Lady Mary Pat Christie. "So it's critical to shine a light on this issue so that every woman can identify cardiovascular risk factors, take action to improve overall heart health and save lives."

According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, which if controlled, could reduce their risk. The following measures can help women reduce their risk: 

  • Avoid smoking or using tobacco
  • Exercise 30 minutes most days of the week
  • Eat a heart healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight, and
  • Get regular health checkups to help control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar and manage blood pressure

Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease and stroke, which are the first and third leading causes of women's death, respectively, in both the U.S. and New Jersey. African American women have the highest mortality rates for these diseases both nationally and in the state, when compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

In New Jersey, approximately 12,000 women die of heart disease and stroke annually. Women account for 52 percent of deaths due to diseases of the heart (10,000), and 59 percent of stroke deaths (2,000). Just over three percent of women in New Jersey have ever been diagnosed with angina or coronary heart disease and an estimated 2.4 percent report they have had a stroke.

Women may not always have the chest pain or discomfort typical of men's heart attacks. Instead, they may feel shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, back or jaw pain, unusual fatigue, dizziness, or feelings of anxiety that resemble a panic attack.

"As part of taking heart health seriously, it's important for women to know how their heart attack symptoms may differ from men's. Not knowing about these differences could cause potentially deadly delay in seeking help and getting a proper diagnosis," Commissioner O'Dowd said.

Events will take place statewide this month to promote Go Red and raise awareness of heart health and prevention of heart disease and stroke. Programs include healthy heart presentations at community centers, churches, health clinics and municipal buildings; cholesterol and blood pressure screenings; and information distributed by local supporters and partners including banks and retailers.

The national Go Red movement offers women a free, online Go Red Better U 12-week program for tips and guidance on improving heart health at: https://www.goredforwomen.org/home/live-healthy/betteru-nutrition-and-fitness-program/

For more information on heart disease in women or the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women, visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/