NATIONAL RED DAY / AMERICAN HEART MONTH
- Dear Friends and Family,
February is American Heart Month, and today the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is sponsoring National Red Day to give people a chance to show their support for women living with heart disease and to raise awareness about how many women are affected by this devastating disease.
A few years ago I had the honor of representing American Indian women and heart health issues as a guest of then First Lady Laura Bush during the annual State of the Union. Maintaining a healthy heart has always been an issue of importance to me as many of my family members suffer from heart conditions.
Nearly 43 million women, one-third of all women in America, are living with or are at risk for heart disease. Native American women, which includes American Indians and Alaska Natives, make up 0.8% of all women in the U.S. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in American Indian/Alaska Native women, claiming more lives than diabetes, stroke, cirrhosis, and chronic liver disease. Among Native American women age 18 and older, 61.4% have one or more cardiovascular disease risk factors - hypertension, cigarette smoking, high blood cholesterol, obesity, or diabetes. American Indian/Alaska Native women have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking (40.8%) compared to any other ethnic group. These are sobering statistics for our Native American women, families, and communities.
Did you know that women who suffer heart attacks are more likely to die from heart disease within a year than men, yet they are less likely to receive the recommended care to prevent it? We must work on changing this in our communities, and help Native American women have healthier hearts and live longer, healthier lives. Today we can do our part to call attention to women's heart health by wearing red: a favorite red dress, shirt, tie, pin, or hat. Not just today, but every day, let's make an effort to encourage our sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and all women in our communities to talk to their doctor, find out their risk, and take action today to lower it.
Wopila (Thank You),
Lillian A. Sparks
Administration for Native Americans
anacommissioner @ acf.hhs.gov (take out spaces)
"Let's put our minds together and see what we can build for our children." Chief Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Lakota
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