To encourage healthy hearts, the Columbus City Council proclaimed Feb. 3 as National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases and help save lives.
The proclamation was declared during the council’s Jan. 30 meeting. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one killer in America. Advocacy and awareness among college students and the broader Columbus community, with days such as National Wear Red Day, are crucial in the fight to combat this plague, Dr. Laxmi Mehta, director of preventative cardiology and women’s cardiovascular health at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State, said.
Brianne Ballard, communications director of the American Heart Association of Central Ohio, said National Wear Red Day is a part of the broader Go Red for Women movement, which seeks to bring awareness to the No. 1 leading cause of death among women — heart disease — by wearing red.
According to the Wear Red website, among females 20 years and older, “nearly 45% are living with some form of cardiovascular disease.” According to the CDC, heart disease accounts for roughly 20 percent of deaths in women.
Mehta said she hopes those in the community will participate due to the rise in cardiovascular disease among all demographics.
“We want our local community to be healthy, and it is important for our community to pay attention to what the disease is, what the risk factors are and what are the steps that I can do to improve that,” Mehta said.
Ballard said a common myth is heart disease is typically seen as an old man’s disease.
“People tend to think heart disease might be a man’s disease, an older man’s disease or just an older person’s disease, but it’s actually the No. 1 killer of women over age 20,” Ballard said.
Mehta said heart disease is becoming more common among younger individuals due to unhealthy lifestyle habits, and this growing trend is something younger and college-aged individuals should take more seriously.
The Wexner Medical Center, Mehta said, will take part in the event by encouraging faculty and staff to wear red and meet Friday in the Ross Heart Hospital Auditorium and at the East hospital near the cafeteria to take pictures in support of the day. It is also a day when doctors are encouraged to speak to their patients and families about heart disease in women and in general, he said.
Ballard said National Wear Red Day also looks to bring awareness and attention to preventative measures to combat heart disease and heart disease death, such as key lifestyle adaptations and CPR training.
Ballard said the theme of this American Heart Month is “Be the Beats.” This initiative is encouraging at least one member of every household to learn proper CPR.
“The majority of heart attacks actually happen in the home, and 70 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests will happen in the home, so chances are, if you’re called on to give CPR, it’s going to be for somebody you know or love,” Ballard said.
Keeping up with one’s lifestyle, Mehta said, is equally, if not more, important when it comes to heart disease preventative measures.
Mehta said the eight lifestyle and health factors essential to heart health include quitting tobacco, getting an adequate amount of sleep and exercise, having a healthy diet and managing cholesterol and glucose levels.
“More than 80 percent of heart disease is preventable if we take the necessary steps,” Mehta said.