February 15, 2017 | Poonam Velagapudi, MD, MS
National Wear Red Day is observed on the first Friday of February every year to bring to attention the fact that heart disease is the most common cause of death among women and to raise awareness about women's heart health. This year, Feb. 3 marked 14 years since the initial National Wear Red Day was observed. We asked a few ACC members about 'why' and 'how' they wore red. And who wore it the best? Read on to decide!
Robert A. Harrington, MD, MACC, has two reasons for wearing red: "My mother died at age 42 of sudden cardiac death when I was a senior in college and my sister a senior in high school. I do it in her memory. I am married and have four daughters so those are five additional reasons to support this." He believes strongly that "Awareness, education and prevention are all key to reducing the global burden of heart disease in both women and men."
Ajay Kirtane, MD, FACC, says he wore red for two reasons: "To increase awareness for women's heart issues, but also to show that I'm a supporter in training women cardiologists/interventionalists who will be instrumental in spreading awareness multiplicatively." He says the most important thing to be done to reduce heart disease in women is "continuing to increase awareness of heart disease as a women's issue (not just a man's)."
Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC, is a strong advocate for women's heart health. He supports the cause because, "Women are under treated and underserved when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. While we have made some strides, there is much more work to be done. The key to reducing risk for women is all about education, awareness and advocacy. The most important thing we can do is help women understand that their greatest health risk is from HEART DISEASE, not from breast cancer. We need to redouble our efforts to educate women on the risk factors for heart disease and the fact that women may have different symptoms than men."
C. Michael Gibson, MD, FACC, shares his reason for wearing red: "We all have women in our family who have developed heart disease, and it is important to raise awareness of this disease." In his opinion, "Disease awareness, risk factor modification and aggressive lipid lowering are key" to reducing heart disease in women.
ACC staff gathered in the lobby of Heart House in Washington, DC, in support of Wear Red Day.
So what has been achieved so far over the past 14 years, what is left to be done and what is our role as FITs? We should educate ourselves about how etiology, symptoms and treatment of heart disease can be different in women and in turn educate and treat our patients accordingly so that heart disease no longer remains the #1 killer of women in the U.S.
This article was authored by Poonam Velagapudi, MD, MS, chair-elect of the Fellows in Training (FIT) Section Leadership Council.
Join the conversation on Twitter using #HeartMonth and make sure to tag @ACCinTouch. Connect with the ACC members featured in this article: Dr. Robert Harrington, @HeartBobH; Dr. Ajay Kirtane, @ajaykirtane; Dr. Kevin Campbell, @DrKevinCampbell; Dr. Michael Gibson, @CMichaelGibson; Dr. Poonam Velagapudi, @pooh_velagapudi.