Never Mind Pink. I’m Wearing Red for American Heart Month

by Marci Rich of The Midlife Second Wife

What with the recent controversy surrounding Susan G. Komen For the Cure’s decision to pull funding for Planned Parenthood, the color pink has been front and center in the news. This suggests that the darker tone in the palette—red—could be overlooked.

That would be a shame, because while the horror that is breast cancer claims far too many lives, it is actually heart disease that kills more than half a million women each year, giving it the dubious distinction of being the leading cause of death among women.

On National Wear Red Day, February 3, and to draw attention to the cause, I wore the little number shown above. In February, I’ll also be taking a good, long look at the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” website to educate myself about the topic, and then I’ll make an appointment with my doctor to schedule a heart-health checkup.

Why has this issue commanded my attention—even more than the other distressing health topic in the news recently? Because I have a sneaking suspicion that if any disease is going to nab me, it will have something to do with my heart, and not the flesh covering it. And this from a woman who’s already had cancer.

My father died in 1969, two weeks after suffering a massive heart attack. He was only 48-years old. (I was 13. I have now lived seven years longer than he.) His illness occurred in the days before cardiac care units; he spent the last weeks of his life in an intensive care ward, surrounded by other desperately ill or injured patients—an environment hardly conducive to reducing one’s stress level.

His death was one of the most formative experiences in my life, and the point I’m trying to make is that my genetic predisposition for heart disease is pretty strong.  I also have what Dr. Oz calls the number one “symptom to watch for–shortness of breath.” I’d like to pretend these things don’t exist—going to the doctor for any reason is not my favorite pastime—but I really know better. And I really need to know more.

Oh, and one more thing: I’ll be sending positive energy to every woman affected by either of these awful diseases. Let’s work to help rid the world of both of ‘em. Okay?

One way to do that is to take the Million Hearts pledge, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control.  Go to (http://millionhearts.hhs.gov) to sign on and tell them MidLifeBloggers sent you.

 

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