Going Red, as defined by the American Heart Association, may be the best thing a woman can do for her health.

The AHA began its Go Red for Women initiative in 2003 to bring awareness to the fact that heart disease is the number one killer of women. That amounts to 1 in 3 women who die, which is more than all cancer deaths combined, according to the AHA.

Go Red for Women is “a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health,” according to the website. More than a million women nationally have committed to Go Red.

Before 2003, a vast majority of the research into heart disease was done with men, who were presumed to be more adversely affected. What we now know is that heart disease and its consequences are different for women than they are for men.

The AHA’s awareness campaign centers around Heart Health Month in February, but Go Red works to educate women all year round. The AHA’s goal is to decrease death and disability from heart disease by 20 percent while improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent.

“My goal is to make it not only a February thing, but we should make it 365 days a year. Everybody should be thinking about heart health,” said Jill Bell, vice president of Passport Health Plan and chair of the 2017 Go Red for Women Luncheon in Louisville, which will be held on Friday, May 19.

Molly Milan of Louisville is an example of someone who is making positive changes as a result of the campaign.

“In my job I was always stressed. I raised two children,” she said. “I remember I was having one of those episodes. My heart had stopped. My heart had failed. It took two shocks to bring me back. The doctor said that he was glad that he saw that on camera.”

That was last June, when Milan said she started feeling a tightness in her chest. She scheduled some tests, and learned that she had a rare heart disease.

“I was walking around with a major heart problem, not even knowing it,” She said.

Today, she is taking the advice of the Go Red movement seriously. That means following an exercise routine, eating a healthy diet, visiting her doctor, and talking to as many other women as possible about the issue. One key focus of Go Red is to encourage women to learn more about their own key health factors — such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI).

Jill Bell joined the Go Red movement 10 years ago, and has helped get the message to thousands of women.

“Women need to know their numbers. We’re always so busy taking care of everybody else, I think it’s really important that women take care of themselves,” she said.

The May 19 Go Red for Women luncheon will be at the Louisville Marriott Downtown and will feature inspiring stories from survivors of heart disease and stroke. Actress Kim Coles is the featured speaker. For more information, please click here.