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Yesterday February 1 was National Wear Red Day.  It’s a day to shine a spotlight on heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women. Black women are disproportionately affected by heart disease; the death rate is 30 percent higher for Black women than their White counterparts. When it comes to preventing heart disease, awareness and action are powerful weapons.

For ten years, women have been fighting heart disease individually and together as part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement. More than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved, but the fight is far from over. In recognition of the 10th National Wear Red Day on February 1, 2013, Go Red For Women asks America to “Go Red” by wearing red to show your support of the cause.

“Heart disease kills more women than any other disease, including breast cancer. Just as heart disease is different in women as compared to men, it also differs when it comes to race. Black women and men are at highest risk for heart disease due to risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, physical inactivity and obesity,” said Dr. Jennifer H. Mieres, professor of Cardiology and Senior vice president, Office of Community and Public Health for North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York.

“The good news is that great strides have been made in prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease. Taking action to be heart healthy is easier than you think — it’s never too late to get on the road to heart health and the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement is there to help you every step of the way,” she says.

Even though we are shining a spotlight on heart disease in February, American Heart Month, taking care of your heart should be a daily priority. Small steps can result in big gains in the fight against heart disease. Here are 10 tips to help you improve your heart health during American Heart Month and beyond:

1. Know your risk. One of every two Black women has heart disease or has had a stroke, yet a recent American Heart Association survey reveals that Black women are significantly less likely than white women to mention heart disease as the leading cause of death among women in the US. Black women are also more likely than White women to have heart disease because of risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, lack of exercise and obesity.

2. Get off your tush and choose to move.  According to the American Heart Association, only 20 percent of African-American women in the United States are at a healthy weight and only 10  percent of African-American women get the recommended amounts of physical activity. To meet the aerobic or strengthening guidelines, the American Heart Association recommends moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, for as little as 30 minutes per day most days of the week. Grab a girlfriend, significant other or family member to be your exercise partner. There is power in partnership!


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