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With football season coming to a close with the Super Bowl on Sunday and Purple Fridays gone until the Ravens start playing again in the fall, search your closest for something red to wear for National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 3.

The effort is part of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Campaign, designed to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke, particularly among females, during February, which is American Heart Month.

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Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women, not just in the U.S., but Maryland and Carroll County. And it affects both men and women in roughly equal numbers.

An American Heart Association survey, however, showed that while about half of women interviewed knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death among females, only 13 percent said it was their greatest personal health risk.

Part of that might be because of age. Women are less prone to heart disease until age 55 — and on average, a woman's first heart attack occurs at age 70 — while men are more likely to suffer from it at an earlier age.

The same AHA survey suggests women worry more about getting breast cancer, even though heart disease kills six times as many women each year. In fact, heart disease and stroke cause one in three deaths among women in the U.S. each year.

So raising awareness about heart disease, particularly in women, is important. Even more crucial is letting women know that heart disease is extremely preventable. Part of the National Wear Red Day campaign is to encourage women to "Know Your Numbers," which include cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index. Those figures can allow you and your doctor to determine your risk for cardiovascular disease, and help come up with a plan.

And that goes the same for men. The risk factors are the same no matter who you are.

The good news is, most of the key risk factors for heart disease are controllable like whether you smoke, the amount of physical activity you get each day, and your diet. The American Heart Association estimates that about 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.

So wear red today, lots of it, and draw some attention, then tell people why. Consider making a donation to the American Heart Association by visiting Heart.org/GoRedAndGive to help the organization fund research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide more information and education to prevent and treat heart disease and stroke, and tell others to do the same.



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