Valentine’s Day is a day all about the emotional health of the heart, while the month of February is about the physical health of the heart.
Nursing students hosted an event held Feb. 6 in the Lecture Hall lobby for heart health month, specifically Go Red for Women. While heart disease is the number one killer in men and women, everyone is aware how it affects men but awareness amongst women is statistically much lower.
The event used hand made posters and graphs talking about heart disease and its causes. A major focus was placed on nutrition, listing the foods students should and shouldn’t be eating. Also present were healthy snack alternatives for students to try. They also took blood pressure and doing BMIs (Body Mass Index).
“Women are the ones who have a higher prevalence for heart disease so we really tried to promote it for women, even though we are also promoting it for men also,” Karen Stewart said, a nursing student and also organizer of the event.
Go Red for Women is organized for bringing awareness to heart disease in women. The organization was founded by the American Heart Association due to over 500,000 deaths each year in women for heart disease, but studies showing women weren’t aware of the risks heart disease poses to them. Go Red focuses more on raising awareness in women because heart disease has been predominately looked at as an old man’s disease.
Female college students, especially those of color are an unaware at-risk group for heart disease. Studies have shown women, especially women of color, don’t believe they are at risk for heart disease. This belief has led to women not worried about preventing heart disease. Studies have also found that this belief to be false as heart disease is the number one killer for women. Not only that, but women of color are more at risk then white women. Hispanics are more likely on average to develop heart disease earlier then non-Hispanic women. Almost 50 percent of African American women over the age of 20 have a form of heart disease.
College students are also at risk due to their sleeping and eating habits. Many students sleep less than the recommended average of seven to nine hours a night. Sleep deprivation and sleep apnea have been shown to have a greater risk on developing heart disease over normal amounts of sleep. Eating habits are another major factor in developing heart disease. Bad eating habits tend to lead to obesity, higher blood pressure, higher cholesteryl, and sometimes diabetes. All of these have shown to cause the development of heart disease.
The Mayo Clinic recommends eight steps to a heart-healthy diet. First, control the portion size. Eating until stuffed at every meal is not healthy. Bigger portions are reserved for low calorie foods like fruits and vegetables. The more vegetables and fruits, the better. Third, whole grain products are encouraged for fiber. Try whole wheat bread over white, and try to avoid muffins, corn bread, doughnuts, biscuits, cakes and pies. Four, try to limit unhealthy fats by trimming the fat off meats and choosing lean meat options. Try to find reduced fat on labels and avoid trans fats, butter, lard and creamy sauces. Five, choose Low-level protein options like fish, poultry and low-fat dairy products. Six, use spices and herbs over salt to lower sodium. Seven, create daily menus to change up the nutrients you body is getting. Lastly, afford yourself an occasional treat.
Events like this are held through the entire month of February to bring awareness to heart health. While the heart health is only one month, the goal of organizations like Go Red is to raise heart health awareness for the long term. The month also ties in with health months throughout the year, with March’s health focused events tied into heart health.
“Next month we’re going to have a nutrition month that’s here. So, throughout the semester there will be a lot of events we’re going to have.”
March begins nutrition month, starting out as a week in 1973 and becoming a full month in 1980. Every month of the year, except December, is host to multiple health related causes with February not only being heart health month, but also cancer prevention month, international prenatal infection prevention, and low vision awareness month. Heart health awareness month lasts through out the month of February.