The Matter of the Heart
While we do tend to hear this fact frequently, it is still a hard one to believe: Heart disease is the number-one killer of women, and stroke is number three. It’s true that more women die of cardiovascular disease than the next four causes of death combined. The American Heart Association (AHA) Go Red For Women campaign has always been a visible reminder of awareness to this cause during the month of February, but this year, the group has taken it in a new direction, with Kim Feil of Deerfield leading the pack.
Instead of a standard fund-raiser luncheon or gala event, Go Red For Women will be hosting a Community Health Expo on February 24 at the University of Illinois-Chicago Forum in the city. Poised to be an interactive and inspiring day, the AHA will be offering free health screenings and workshops on diet and exercise, as well as a town-hall-style panel discussions with physicians and other health care professionals. This new approach is designed to empower women to focus on what it is they can do to take care of themselves and pass that wisdom on to their families. “It’s our mission to make women aware of their number-one health threat and to teach them what they can do to beat it,” explains Feil.
But what Feil finds truly empowering to women is knowing that with proper attention and behaviors, heart issues can be managed effectively, avoiding life-threatening issues. One major component of beating heart disease is knowledge of your “numbers.” Every woman, no matter how busy or committed, needs to know her cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. “The Expo will give women the opportunity to learn their numbers so they are in full control of their hearts,” says Feil. “We find women tend to be the ‘chief health officer’ of their families and love to be equipped with new ideas to be the best they can be at this role.”
On the eve of the Expo, a recognition event will be held for the AHA’s Go Red corporate and individual supporters. All funds raised from this event will support educational efforts and breakthrough research by the American Heart Association. Since 2004, almost $44 million has been spent on women-focused research.
The true beauty of the Expo is the act of bringing together women for one day to focus on their own health. Feil reminds us that if we really care about being fully engaged in taking care of our families, friends, and work or community activities, we need to make a sincere, personal health commitment to ourselves. “I don’t know of another women-focused heart health event in the city that will be offered to give every attendee the screenings and information they need in one place, for one day.”
Visit chicagogoredforwomen.org to see a short video starring Elizabeth Banks to which every busy woman can relate. The American Heart Association Go Red For Women Community Health Expo is on Friday, February 24, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the University of Illinois-Chicago Forum at 725 West Roosevelt Road in Chicago.