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The American Heart Association's annual Go Red For Women Luncheon

Show your support in the fight against heart disease on March 16

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More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. Unfortunately, heart disease is often silent, hidden and misunderstood. That’s why the American Heart Association is encouraging San Diegans to show their support for the fight against women and heart disease by attending the American Heart Association’s 2012 Go Red For Women Luncheon, on March 16 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

“Heart disease kills one woman every minute,” said Lori Daniels, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. “That’s why it’s so important to understand your personal risk factors and often-overlooked common symptoms. And once you know them, it’s important to make sure the women in your life know them as well.”

According to Michelle Mueller, chair of San Diego’s 2012 Go Red For Women campaign and vice president of external affairs for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), understanding those risk factors and learning what you can do to reduce them is one of the luncheon’s primary objectives.

“Unfortunately, there is a huge gap between awareness and action among women,” Mueller said. “Until women recognize their risk for heart disease — and take steps to prevent it — we will continue to lose women to heart disease and stroke.”

“Making positive lifestyle changes aimed at prevention does not need to be difficult,” Mueller said. “Eat baked, not fried, take the stairs instead of the elevator, get your blood pressure checked. By taking these tiny steps, you will be making a difference. And they all add up. The first choice you need to make is to actually make the changes, to take control of your own heart health, of your life and lifestyle.”

More than 41 million American women are living with one or more types of cardiovascular disease, yet only one in five view heart disease as their greatest health threat. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women in the United States. While this is ominous, the good news is that fewer women are dying of heart disease — both in San Diego and across the country.

Mueller stressed that women truly need to prioritize their own heart health. “Women are still the primary caregivers in most families. If we are not taking care of ourselves, then we are not taking care of our families,” she said, adding that increasing awareness is the first step. San Diegans are invited to take the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 assessment at mylifecheck.heart.org to get a free, personalized health action-plan to minimize cardiovascular risk.

Holly G. Green, CEO of The Human Factor, Inc., mother of two, wife, and American Heart Association Go Red For Women Passion Committee Chair, knows first-hand how important this knowledge can be.

Green had no idea that the back pains, shortness of breath and occasional light headedness she experienced could be warning signs of something much sinister. She had these issues for about three months before ending up in the emergency room.

Green was not convinced she was having heart issues until she woke up in the hospital with three stents in her heart, and learned that the left side of her heart had been nearly 100 percent blocked.

“I am ashamed to say, I was actually clueless about my own heart,” Green said. “We have to make sure every woman and man has a clue. 80 percent of women don’t even think heart disease is something to be concerned about. Knowledge could be the difference between life and death.”

The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon provides opportunities to increase both public awareness and research funding.

Funds raised through the Go Red For Women Luncheon support heart and stroke research, as well as public and professional education programs in San Diego. The American Heart Association is the second largest funder of heart and stroke focused research in the world. Only the U.S. government funds more research in these areas.

San Diego-based institutions received more than $10 million in research funding from the American Heart Association last year. This money allowed research projects to be funded at numerous locations, including: University of California San Diego, Scripps Research Institute, The Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, San Diego State University Research Foundation, San Diego Veteran’s Medical Research Foundation and La Jolla Institute.

Research funded by the American Heart Association has yielded or contributed to many important innovations, such as CPR, pacemakers, bypass surgery, the heart-lung machine, surgical techniques to repair heart defects, and life-extending drugs like clot-busters. These and other advances are making it possible for many people to call themselves “survivors.”

For more information about the American Heart Association and the 2012 San Diego Go Red For Women Luncheon, please call 858-410-3850 or visit sdgoredluncheon.org.

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign is sponsored nationally by Macy’s and Merck & Co., Inc.

Locally, San Diego Go Red For Women Luncheon sponsors include: UC San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center; Datron; HD Supply; SDG&E; Anthem; Great Call, Inc.; Barona Band of Mission Indians; and Westfield UTC. Media sponsors include KFMB-CBS 8, The Daily Transcript, San Diego Home and Garden, U-T San Diego, El Latino, Radio Latina, Univision, and Telemundo 33.

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