Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for both men and women, followed closely by stroke. But many Americans do not fully realize that these crippling health problems are largely preventable. Through healthy living, lifestyle changes, diet and exercise, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Heart disease, which takes the lives of more than 480,000 American females each year, kills more American women than men, with 53 percent of women who die each year succumbing to cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to 46 percent of males. An additional 35,000 females are lost each year to stroke.
This national health concern has proven extremely costly as well, with 2006 projections for the direct and indirect costs of CVD and stroke totaling more than $400 billion nationally.
Unfortunately, these extremely compelling figures go relatively unnoticed. According to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 13 percent of women consider cardiovascular disease their greatest health risk. This surprising contrast is compelling evidence of the need for an education and awareness campaign like Wear Red for Women Day.
This worthwhile program encourages women to take charge of their health and educate themselves about the steps they can take to safeguard against CVD and stroke. By wearing red on Feb. 3 and promising to encourage friends, family and co-workers to follow the Go Red For Women message, "Love Your Heart," we can strike a blow against this terrible disease.
As First Lady of South Dakota, I urge all citizens to participate in this worthwhile cause and help keep the cardiovascular health of the citizens of our state going strong.
For further information on either Wear Red for Women Day or the American Heart Association, please visit http://www.americanheart. org/.