Los Angeles Times

Take Action to Heart

HealthKey.com contributor

Join the fight against heart disease by the clothes you wear, the things you learn, the people you influence and, literally, the steps you take. You can help get the word out that, according to the Women's Heart Foundation, a heart attack occurs about every 20 seconds in the United States, with a heart attack death every minute. The American Heart Association offers a bouquet of red action options to fight this silent killer.

Check these out:

Go Red Feb. 5. Heart disease gets massive attention on this day from churches, schools, companies, cities, states, national monuments and individuals. In 2009, more than 5,000 businesses encouraged employees to wear red, speak up about heart disease and donate. Niagara Falls, Denver County Courthouse, Graceland, Times Square, San Francisco cable cars and Security Bank in Illinois are among the entities that have participated in the red illumination fest. And "Go Red" can be any day, any month. Registration is free and you'll receive ideas and materials like posters or fliers.

Sign Up for Go Red for Women. It's free and you receive the red dress pin (the symbol of women's fight against heart disease) plus a BetterU Makeover. This life makeover provides a 12-week, online nutrition and fitness program that targets ways to a healthy heart and longer life. There are step-by-step guidance, daily expert tips, an online journal and downloadable coaching tools. The heart organization reports that of the women who Go Red: more than a third lose weight, half increase their exercise, six of 10 change their diet, 40 percent check their cholesterol levels and a third develop a heart health plan with their physicians.

Wear the Red Dress Pin. For those in the know, it is a reminder to be heart wise healthy. And, it can be the conversation piece that you use for what could be life-saving information – cardiovascular disease kills one of every three American women while breast cancer deaths are one in 30.

Organize Your Own Event. You can orchestrate your own Go Red happening. Have a tea in your home. Make it a spa day with friends. Plan a seminar at a faith-based gathering. Get the word out there that the number one killer of women is cardio vascular disease.

Start! Heart Walk. From Abilene, Texas to Worchester, Mass., bring friends, family, coworkers or just yourself to join this premiere fundraising activity of the heart association. Talk to the Red Cap Survivors wearing the distinctive hats during the walk and at other activities. Your local chapter has the details.

Host a Heart-Healthy Meal. At your next dinner party or luncheon, serve friends and family delicious, wholesome fare along with a discussion on heart disease and stroke. Find recipes on the foodnetwork.com under Healthy Eating.

Attend a Go Red Luncheon. Held in cities all over the United States and Alaska, these gatherings focus on the facts of heart disease as well as ways to get involved in your community.

Talk to Your Doctor. Even if you feel great now, what are your health risks a decade from now and how can you minimize them? Have a frank discussion with your doctor and get on a health track.

Know Your Stats. Blood pressure, weight, body fat, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and other vital signs can mean a healthy future or a debilitating illness. Know what your stats should be and keep track of them.

Learn the Signs. Generally, symptoms are chest pain or uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing that may last for more than a few minutes or come and go; discomfort or pain in other areas, such as the arms, the neck, jaw, back or stomach; shortness of breath. Especially for women, the classic horrendous pain in the chest symptom may be replaced by weakness in the arms, chronic indigestion and extreme fatigue.

Lobby Politicians. Join the nearly 200,000 You're the Cure advocates across the country that have been calling on their local, state, and federal lawmakers to address the issue of cardiovascular disease. Funding for research, treatment and education is needed on every level from D.C. to your neighborhood.

Share Your Story. Nothing is more persuasive than a real-life tale. Talking about your experience with heart disease or those of your loved ones or friends may be the spark that another needs to act to save her life.

Volunteer. Make the hearts of your community even stronger by lending a hand at your local heart association office.

Get Social. Facebook, Tweet, MySpace, e-mail or post the facts about cardiovascular disease on your Web site.

Join a Clinical Trial. For decades, heart disease research was conducted only on men. Now, women are receiving the research spotlight but there's one problem – finding volunteers. Got to the National Institute of Health's database of current health trials – clinicaltrails.gov – and participate in a study.

Shop. Oh yeah, you can do this. The American Heart Association's Web store has shirts, hats, women's apparel and accessories plus other heart-healthy products. Plus, the money you spend goes to support life-saving research and awareness programs.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times