Women’s Center raises awareness

Students walked around the Curris Center with red hearts painted on their hands and faces Monday in support of women who suffer from heart disease.

The Murray State Women’s Center sponsored Go Red for Women, which aims to bring awareness to heart disease, the leading cause of death in women.

The booth was set up in the Curris Center and participants had the chance to learn about the deadly disease through workers from the Women’s Center and various handouts on how to prevent the disease.

Graduate student Kendall Swinney from Louisville, Ky. and junior Skylar Oakley from Madisonville, Ky. helped run the event.

Swinney and Oakley said bringing awareness to heart disease is important because it is not a topic often discussed among college students.

“At the age that we’re at, we don’t talk about things like this” Oakley said. “We don’t worry about mortality that much since we are young.”

The two handed out information packets which included diets and exercises to prevent the disease and ways for people with a family history of heart disease to avoid it, through mapping out health histories, talking to a healthcare provider and practicing healthy habits now.

Swinney, a graduate assistant with the Women’s Center, said most people aren’t aware of the how deadly heart disease is because of its lack of promotion in comparison to other diseases, such as breast cancer.

While the table is meant to keep women aware of the dangers of heart disease, Oakley said the information table attracted mostly men, who she believes may have connections to heart disease through their own personal relationships.

“It’s mostly men that come up to get information,” she said. “I think it’s because they have experience with family members who have heart disease. If we do something for breast cancer, a lot of men will come up who have mothers and grandmothers who have had that, too.”

Abigail French, director of the Women’s Center, participated in Go Red for Women Day because the disease kills more women than all cancers combined, and affects about one in three women.

“It’s a significant health concern,” she said. “The goal of Go Red for Women is for everyone to wear red and have a heart painted on your cheek or hand in support, but also to educated people about the warnings signs.”

She said college students and women can do many things now to prevent heart disease later, including exercises and eating a healthy diet.

Some risk factors that women can control now include not smoking, being aware of high blood pressure and high cholesterol and being physically active.

With nearly 38 percent of women being sedentary, regular physical activity can help reduce not just heart disease, but heart attacks and strokes.

French said one initiative about Go Red for Women is to help people to know what to look for and what questions to ask doctors in case of symptoms.

“One of the things about heart disease is that most of the time it is preventable,” French said. “It can be corrected but most people don’t know they have the symptoms until it is too late.”

Go Red for Women is celebrating its first 10 years, and during those years 90 percent of participants have made lifestyle changes. Changes include 37 percent of women losing excess weight, 43 percent checking cholesterol, 60 percent eating healthier diets and more than half exercising more.

With the efforts of the national Go Red for Women initiative, 34 percent fewer women now die from heart disease, meaning more than 627,000 lives have been saved.


Story by Mary Bradley, Staff Writer