Go Red for Women helps increase awareness and education year-round about importance of heart health

Go Red for Women LogoGoing Red, as defined by the American Heart Association (AHA), 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, according to a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. 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.

“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. For more information about the event, please click here. Or to see a video about what Go Red for Women means to two Louisville women, please click here.

It’s time to ‘Go Red for Women’ and fight heart disease

Insider Louisville LogoLet’s start with some good news: The fight against heart disease, the number one killer of women, is producing positive results.

Since 2004, when the national Go Red for Women organization began educating women about risk factors, 34 percent fewer women are dying of heart disease. That’s 300 women per day.

Jane Merman, Kentucky’s Go Red for Women Director, has seen the improvement during 14 years in her position.

“For many years it was thought of as a man’s disease,” Merman says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “But more women actually die of heart disease than men and have since 1984. The good news is that 80 percent of the time, it can be prevented if we make the right choices when it comes to our lifestyle. We can’t control family history and our age, but we can control how we live our lives and we can know our numbers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose levels.

“If things are not right, we can do something about it, either through lifestyle or with medication.”

Go Red for Women, a part of the American Heart Association, organizes four major annual events — Wear Red Day on Feb. 3, the annual Heart Ball in February, a luncheon in May, and a walk in September. Kicking off the campaign with the annual Wear Red Day, the organization hopes seeing so many people wearing red will help spark conversations and action to change unhealthy lifestyles.

For more information, including a special video all about the Go Red for Women movement in Kentucky, please click here.


Overall U.S. death rate declines after seeing rare rise in 2015

CDC imageThe overall U.S. mortality rate declined in the first quarter of this year, according to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The news came as a relief to researchers who had been taken aback by a rise in the nation’s death rate in 2015, an event that has happened only a few times in the past 25 years. Researchers believed the increase was due in part by a rise in fatal drug overdoses, which have been on the upswing since the 1990s.

“This is good news, given that there was an increase in mortality in 2015,” Andrew Fenelon, assistant professor of health administration at the University of Maryland, said in a New York Times article. “Maybe the 2015 increase was a quick blip, and the trend of decline will continue.”

The mortality rate — a measure of deaths per 100,000 people — is a key indicator of the health of the nation. It almost always declines, driven by improvements in medical care and healthier living through diet and exercise.

The data showed decreases for a number of illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, and others. The data is based on all death records received by the center as of June 19 and could still change.

CDC lists top 10 U.S. public health issues

CDC imageThe U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control has updated its Prevention Status Reports, which ranks the biggest U.S. public health issues.

The Prevention Status Reports organize information on state public health policies and practices in a format that is easy to use for public health professionals, community leaders, and policy makers. The reports allow these individuals to understand their state’s status and identify improvement areas.

According to the reports, the 10 most important public health problems and concerns are (listed alphabetically):

  • Alcohol-related harms
  • Food safety
  • Healthcare-associated infections
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • HIV
  • Motor vehicle injury
  • Nutrition, physician activity and obesity
  • Prescription drug overdose
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Tobacco use

The Prevention Status Reports website also features an interactive map, tables summarizing state data and fact sheets. To learn more, click here.


American Heart Association creates online community for patients and caregivers to come together and share stories

Insider Louisville LogoTo help remind people that they are not alone, the American Heart Association (AHA) recently started a free online community for patients and caregivers to come together and talk with other people who are going through similar situations.

Once someone has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, such as heart disease, it’s natural for them to experience a wide range of emotions, including loneliness. That’s why the AHA created the Patient Support Network (online at supportnetwork.heart.org) so that patients and their family members can share stories about their experiences.

“The Patient Support Network is a community of survivors and family members who can share experiences, give and receive emotional support and have their questions answered,” Matt Rountree, of the AHA’s local chapter, said in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “Connecting with others who are either a survivor, or are caring for a survivor of heart disease or stroke, is an important next step to emotional recovery. We want others to know they are not alone in their journey.”

To learn more about the AHA and this Patient Support Network, please click here.


Exercise, even small amounts, can help improve heart health

women exercisingOne of the most important things that people can do to keep their hearts healthy is to get regular exercise.

According to experts from the American College of Cardiology’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council, even small amounts of exercise – including standing – can reduce the risk of heart disease. And greater reductions in risk can be achieved with more exercise.

However, only half of American adults get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, according to the report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“The greatest benefit is to simply exercise, regardless of the intensity,” Dr. Valentin Fuster, editor-in-chief of the journal, said in a news release.

The report also reviewed recent studies that have suggested that excessive aerobic exercise may harm the heart. While that possibility warrants further investigation, current research shows that even for people with extremely high levels of training, the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks.

“The public media has embraced the idea that exercise may harm the heart and disseminated this message, thereby diverting attention away from the benefits of exercise as a potent intervention for the primary and secondary prevention of heart disease,” said Dr. Michael Scott Emery, co-chair of the Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council.

To see a guide to physical activity from The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, please click here.


Go Red For Women Luncheon aims to raise awareness about heart disease and create a call to action

Go Red for Women LogoHeart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S.

While both men and women can experience chest pressure that many say feels like an elephant sitting on the chest, women often have symptoms that they don’t connect to heart disease, such as extreme fatigue, irregular back discomfort, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness, jaw pain, shortness of breath and nausea, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are all risk factors for heart disease. In addition, certain lifestyle factors can put people at risk, such as an unhealthy diet that is high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium; physical inactivity; obesity; too much alcohol (more than one drink a day for women, more than two for men); and tobacco use.

Passport is proud to be a co-sponsor of the 2015 Lexington Go Red For Women Luncheon. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, at the Lexington Center’s Heritage Hall, 400 W. Vine St. Tickets are $100 each or $1,000 for a table of 10. For more information, please go online to lexingtongored.heart.org or click here.

The Go Red for Women effort focuses on three areas: heightening awareness of the issue, creating a passionate call to action, and generating funds to support education and research. For more information, check out the AHA website at heart.org.


American Heart Association Works to Fight Heart Disease

Insider Louisville LogoFor 90 years, heart disease has been the No. 1 killer of Americans, with cancer a distant second.

But the American Heart Association (AHA) believes it is close to changing that ranking, thanks to its ongoing commitment to encourage people to stop smoking, get exercise and eat a healthy diet.

“The AHA has been working toward this goal for the last 90 years and we are very close to seeing it be accomplished,” said Matt Rountree, Senior Director of Communications and Marketing for the Kentucky and Southern Ohio chapter of the AHA.

To learn more about what Passport and the AHA are doing to fight heart disease, check out this Passport-sponsored Insider Louisville article.


Kentucky Has the 12th Highest Adult Obesity Rate in the U.S., New Report Shows

Kentucky now has the 12th highest adult obesity rate in the nation at 31.6 percent, according to “The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America,” a report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Across the country, rates increased in five states (Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah) and remained stable in the rest.

Rates of obesity are above 35 percent for the first time ever in three states (Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi), at or above 30 percent in 22 states, and are not below 21 percent in any. Arkansas had the highest rate of obesity at 35.9 percent, while Colorado had the lowest at 21.3 percent. In 1980, no state had a rate above 15 percent, and in 1991, no state had a rate above 20.

“The State of Obesity”  finds that significant geographic, income, racial and ethnic disparities persist, with obesity rates highest in the South and among Blacks, Latinos and lower-income, less-educated Americans. Obesity puts some 78 million Americans at an increased risk for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

“Efforts to prevent and reduce obesity over the past decade have made a difference. Stabilizing rates is an accomplishment. However, given the continued high rates, it isn’t time to celebrate,” Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH, said in a release. “We’ve learned that if we invest in effective programs, we can see signs of progress. But, we still haven’t invested enough to really tip the scales yet.”

To help Kentuckians prevent obesity and get healthier, the Commonwealth and the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky have produced an online guide  filled with statistics, tips, and policies that can help improve the overall health of Kentucky and its residents.


Cancer remains No. 1 cause of death among U.S. Hispanics, new study shows

American Cancer Society logoCancer is the No. 1 cause of mortality among Hispanics in the U.S., even though the group has lower mortality and incidence of all types of cancer combined, according to new study.

According to a report published in “CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians,” Hispanic people are more likely to be diagnosed with stomach, liver and cervical cancer.

Researchers predict 67,000 new cancers among Hispanic women and 58,400 among men this year, with an estimated 19,900 cancer-related deaths among men and 17,900 among women.

“Death rates are declining for both heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. overall, and cancer, the second leading cause,” lead report author Rebecca Siegel, a researcher at the American Cancer Society, said in a Reuters article. “Cancer has already surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death in Hispanics because of their young age structure.”

More than 55 million Hispanics live in the U.S., making up the country’s largest racial and ethnic minority group and accounting for about 17 percent of the total population. About 82 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. are under age 50, compared with only 60 percent of white people.

To read the full report, please click here.