GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The American Heart Association is celebrating the 10th year of its annual "Go Red for Women" campaign, this February.
The organization kicked off this year's campaign with a number of events, including the national Wear Red Day earlier this month, a number of health fairs and even a fashion show on WZZM 13'S Healthy You last weekend. The events vary, but spokesperson Cindy Bouma says the goal is the same.
"A lot of women think they are at risk for other diseases such as cancer and heart disease is really their number one health threat. Our goal is to get that message out and educate them. Their symptoms might not look the same as other people's," she said. "If they do have a cardiac event they could have a subtle pain. They could have pain across the back bra line. They could have pain in the jaw and think it is a dental issue. There is a lot to be aware of and a lot of education but the underlining message is to seek help fast."
Research shows heart disease is responsible for one in three women's deaths, killing approximately one woman every single minute. In Michigan alone, 41 women die every day due to heart disease. Over the past decade the "Go Red for Women" Campaign has saved 627,000 lives and caused 330 fewer women deaths per day.
"Generally heart research looks at both genders, but there hasn't been equality in that. Our goal with this campaign is to do research and education that is restricted to women's issues," said Bouma.
Julie Squillante and her daughter, Joyce, are participating in some of this year's events. Julie says she always worried about her family history of heart disease. Both her mother and grandmother died early in life from heart disease. Recently 17-year old, Joyce, learned she has a heart condition that requires surgery.
"My mother died at the age of 42, when I was only 14 years old, of a heart attack. Also, I lost my grandmother when my mother was only 11 of a stroke, she said never believing heart disease would hit her daughter at such a young age.
"We found a hidden issue that she actually had a birth defect. She was born with a hole in her heart that we never knew about. She is going to be having surgery in June regarding that. I am kind of like this can't be. I had no idea," said Julie. Joyce will have surgery shortly after graduating high school and is optimistic about her future.
"I think the most important thing is to know your history first of all. When you know the warning signs get it checked out like immediately," said Joyce.
On Friday, February 22nd, the American Heart Association will hold a "Go Red for Women" Luncheon at Noto's Old World Cuisine in Grand Rapids. It takes place between 10 am and 1:30 pm There will be a silent auction, educational workshops as well as educational and survivor speakers.
"Money that is raised by the "Go Red For Women" Campaign is restricted for research for and by women. "Generally heart research looks at both genders but there hasn't been equality in that," said Bouma. "Our goal with this campaign is to do research and education that is restricted to women's issues."