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Love your heart in February

American Heart Month

American Heart Month

When: February 5, 2010

What: Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, and whether the holiday’s infusion of romance makes your heart pitter-patter or sink, most of us pay more attention to heart-shaped trinkets than to a much more troubling issue. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, but over one third of women do not know they are at risk for heart-related health problems.

Background: Since 2004, National Wear Red Day has been celebrated each February as part of American Heart Month, which is sponsored by the American Heart Association. The event aims to raise awareness of heart disease in women while raising funds for further research and promoting heart-healthy living for women. In addition to showing support for women’s heart health by encouraging employees to wear red, thousands of companies conduct fundraising events on this day and many buildings and tourist sites are illuminated in red to show national solidarity.

Story Pitch: Health-based organizations, women’s interest groups and any company with strong female leadership can campaign around this day. This event’s wide appeal means that anyone can pitch around it by celebrating it in the workplace, holding a fundraiser or issuing a special product and donating a portion of its proceeds to the cause.

The Story Hook: The statistics on women and heart disease are harrowing: studies show that women are less likely to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack or seek appropriate treatment after suffering one. In fact, a 2005 study found that only 8 percent of primary care physicians knew that heart disease kills more women than men each year in America. Consider the following questions when making your pitch:

  • Knowledge is one of the best weapons for fighting heart disease. The Go Red campaign recommends that all women “know their numbers” to determine their risk level of heart disease. How many women do you know are familiar with their good and bad cholesterol levels, fasting blood glucose level and resting blood pressure? How can women request the tests necessary to gauge these numbers?
  • The American Heart Association reports that compared to men women are admitted to fewer clinical trials, and doctors often pursue less-aggressive testing and courses of treatment for women with symptoms of heart disease. How can we bridge this gap? What do women and their doctors need to learn?
  • Many women have trouble finding time for themselves while meeting the demands of work and family. What innovative benefits or incentives can companies offer to encourage women to take time to improve their physical and mental health?
  • According to the Mayo Health Clinic, depression is two times more common in women than men, increasing the risk of heart disease by two to three times compared to those who aren’t depressed. What treatments are available to women to help combat feelings of depression?

Tips: When pitching this event, add a human interest angle to your story by providing information for a woman who became informed about heart disease and changed her habits and lifestyle. In addition, the event’s Web site has media kits available containing posters, fact sheets and other helpful information.

Resources:

American Heart Association
(214) 706-1396
www.americanheart.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
(800) 232-4636
cdcinfo(at)cdc.gov
www.cdc.gov

Sister to Sister: The Women’s Heart Health Foundation
(301) 718-8033
www.sistertosister.org

Women Heart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
(202) 728-7199
mail(at)womenheart.org
www.womenheart.org/index.cfm

–Researched, compiled & written by Marissa Maybee
Event Dates & History Today from CHASE’S Calendar of Events

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