PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
January 31, 2013

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Commissioner O’Dowd Encourages New Jersey to Wear Red for Women's Heart Health


In recognition of February as American Heart Month and February 1 as National Wear Red Day, Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd encouraged both women and men to make healthier lifestyle choices to help reduce their risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in New Jersey and the U.S.

First Lady Mary Pat Christie announced today that Drumthwacket, the Governor's official residence, will be lit red throughout the month of February to spotlight the issue of women's heart health. Governor Chris Christie also signed a proclamation declaring February 1, 2013 as National Wear Red Day. The proclamation is available at https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/552013/pdf/20130131c_red.pdf

"Each year, about 420,000 women in the U.S. die of cardiovascular disease - or about one every minute,'' said Commissioner O'Dowd.  "This year marks the 10th anniversary of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign to raise awareness and empower women to make lifestyle changes that lead to longer, healthier lives. I encourage everyone to wear red tomorrow."

According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, which if controlled, could reduce their risk. The following measures can help women reduce their risk:

  • Avoid smoking or using tobacco
  • Exercise 30 minutes most days of the week
  • Eat a heart healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight, and
  • Get regular health checkups to help you control your cholesterol, reduce blood sugar and manage your blood pressure

Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease and stroke, which are the first and third leading causes of women's death, respectively, in both the U.S. and New Jersey. In both the nation and the state, African American women are at greater risk of both developing cardiovascular diseases and dying from these diseases than are white women.

In New Jersey, about 12,000 women die of heart disease and stroke annually. Women account for 52 percent of deaths due to diseases of the heart (10,000), and 60 percent of stroke deaths (2,000). Just over three percent of women in New Jersey have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease and an estimated 2.5 percent report they have had a stroke.

Women may not always have the chest pain or discomfort typical of men's heart attacks. Instead, they may feel shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, back or jaw pain, unusual fatigue, dizziness, or feelings of anxiety that resemble a panic attack.

"In addition to taking heart health seriously, women also need to know how their heart attack symptoms may differ from men's. Not knowing about these differences could cause potentially deadly delay in seeking help and getting a proper diagnosis," Commissioner O'Dowd said.

With a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DOH is working to prevent heart disease and stroke, particularly among minority and multicultural populations.   DOH's Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Services Program has funded a pilot worksite wellness program to help businesses reduce employees' risks for heart disease, stroke and obesity.

In conjunction with the AHA, DOH provides tool kits to Delta Sigma Theta and Trenton Fortitude which can be distributed and used to hold events focusing on heart health awareness and heart healthy resources. These include such events as Go Red Pajama Parties; Power Breakfasts; Salad Nights; Cooking Demonstrations with Recipes; and other casual community gatherings.

The national Go Red movement offers women a free, online Go Red Better U program for tips and guidance on improving heart health at: http://www.goredforwomen.org/home/live-healthy/betteru-nutrition-and-fitness-program/

more information on heart disease in women or the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women, visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/


Last Reviewed: 1/31/2013