Wear Red Day 2024!
This year, February 2 is Wear Red Day! On this day, people around the country will wear red to bring awareness to cardiovascular conditions, including heart failure. Not everyone knows about Wear Red Day, so we asked our Health Leaders to share more about what it is, what it means to them, and how they have participated in it in the past.
How would you explain Wear Red Day?
"While the intent is to see red everywhere visually, the question is why? For some, it’s in remembrance of someone they lost to a cardiovascular diagnosis. Then, for others, Wear Red Day is to acknowledge the fight themselves or a loved one has endured due to heart disease. It’s an opportunity for voices to be heard without saying a word.
However, recent projections from the American Heart Association (AHA) show that by 2035, 45 percent of the US adult population will live with cardiovascular disease. So what can be done about this? I believe that the visual sea of red on Wear Red Day will spark conversations. Conversations can lead to education and increase awareness.1
The World Health Organization states, 'An estimated 80 percent of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is preventable.' Which is why advocacy and awareness are so important. Being aware may lead to positive lifestyle changes in nutrition and exercise or a reduction in smoking and alcohol consumption. These changes may improve outcomes. 2
Wear Red Day is a day of conversations, awareness, a celebration of life, and living."
"For a long time, people didn't realize how common heart disease was in women. This inspired the good people at the American Heart Association to create a special day to increase awareness about heart disease in women. The chosen day is the first Friday of Heart Health Month, which is February.
On this day, people are encouraged to wear red, whether it's in the form of shirts, pants, sweatshirts, skirts, dresses, shoes, or even lipstick. The emphasis is on those without heart disease, raising awareness about the unique risks women face. And it’s about stressing the significance of taking proactive measures to prevent heart disease, particularly in women. The visible symbol of this awareness is the color red.
As a respiratory therapist, I see the impact of heart disease on women firsthand. While classic chest pain is often present, many women experience less obvious symptoms like fatigue, neck pain, or jaw discomfort. That's why Wear Red Day is so important – it raises awareness about these hidden dangers and empowers women to prioritize their heart health.
In my work, I perform tests like Holters and EKGs that help diagnose heart issues early, especially in women with atypical symptoms. But prevention is key! By adopting a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and knowing your family history, women can significantly reduce their risk. And that is the purpose of Wear Red Day."
"To me, Wear Red Day is about bringing attention to heart disease (and stroke) as the leading cause of death in this country. It’s about spreading awareness of the risk factors of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke and why these are important.
It’s about putting a face to a name because we as a country are not tuned in. For example, I compare the awareness and empathy that we have toward cancer – compare that to heart failure, and it’s not the same. This lack of overall awareness impacts all of us in every aspect of our lives, from our friends, family, and employers, to treatment options and quality of life post-diagnosis.
For example, we have made strides in stopping cancer, but we do not know how to turn scar tissue back into working muscle. Or, like myself, heart failure is a progressive illness for many. We need more recognition of what heart disease is, the millions it impacts at ALL stages of life, the burdens of heart disease, and why more therapies are needed now, just to name a few.
There are many lives to save, and transplants are the magic cure people think. Wearing Red Day is putting a face to the struggles heart failure patients deal with."
Have you participated in Wear Red Day?
Olivia shares her reasons for participating:
"Wear Red Day is a day in which we raise awareness for heart disease by wearing red. Heart disease affects us all whether we know it or not. Whether it's someone in your family, someone close to you, or you personally.
I have participated in Wear Red Day every year since I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy in 2014. It has become a day for me to just sit and reflect on my heart journey and think about how grateful I am for how far science and research have come. Without science and research, I simply wouldn’t be here.
For me, there are many reasons that I wear red. The first reason I wear red is to support others around me who are fighting heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. I also wear red because I am a 2-time stroke survivor, former LVAD patient, and a heart transplant recipient. I wear red for my donor because I received my heart transplant on February 2, 2020.
Lastly, I wear red to honor my grandfather and other family members who have died from heart disease. Heart disease is a largely preventable disease, but it doesn’t mean that if you do everything that you are supposed to do you are safe from it. There are some people like me whose heart disease is genetic and runs in the family. Everyone should participate in Wear Red Day so we can all raise awareness for heart disease."
Amber shares her experience:
"Before I had to medically retire from nursing, I spent 9 years working solely with heart patients. Mostly heart patients who recently had some kind of heart surgery. I also worked with many who were in the hospital for chest pain. I wore red every year on Wear Red Day. I did it in honor of our patients and some close friends with heart history, including a very special friend who ended up requiring a pacemaker that she was completely dependent on in her 30s due to lupus.
Every year, we would also take part in a heart walk with the AHA. One year, I was lucky enough to be the captain of our team. I worked very closely with my director and other heart floors to decide on how we wanted to raise our funds. We wanted to raise as much as we could for such a great cause. I ended up designing the shirt with a couple of others to sell as our fundraiser. They were sold to our team and others in the heart hospital. It was a great experience and so cool to see all our matching shirts that day – and sporadically through the heart hospital for the rest of the year.
When I changed jobs to an office still caring for heart patients. I always wore red on the actual day. But we had a luncheon to celebrate our cardiac rehab patients. Even crown a king and queen who had shown the most effort and improvement in their conditions. It was so cool to be able to be a part of this!"
What does Wear Red Day mean to you?
Leslie shares what Wear Red Day means to her:
"To me, wearing the color red is extremely symbolic to remind me and everyone about cardiovascular disease. In 2002, the Heart Truth campaign introduced wear red to warn women about the No. 1 health threat, heart disease. Since then, each year National Wear Red Day has been celebrated on the first Friday in February to bring greater awareness to heart disease as a leading cause of death in Americans.
As a female who was born with congenital heart disease, I’m well aware of what heart disease means because I was one of 1 in 100 children born with this debilitating disease. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve gone through multiple heart surgeries, strokes, arrhythmias, a heart completely stopping, friends dying from heart failure, and a heart transplant to continue to raise awareness of heart disease.
You see, I’ve been campaigning and advocating for heart disease since I was in my junior year of college where I found a cardiology anatomy book in the local Barnes and Noble. In the book, it had the words "tricuspid atresia," which was one of my congenital heart defects. It took me by surprise, but more importantly, I could tell my friends about my heart defects and show them a diagram of what my heart looked like inside and the reason why I couldn’t participate in the activities they could do. Those words, the diagram, and the opportunity to educate others are the reasons why it is important to wear red to educate others globally about heart disease."
"To me, Wear Red Day is a day I spend focusing on spreading awareness of heart disease. People of both genders can develop and live with heart and cardiovascular issues. But during my career, it became frustratingly clear that we needed to do better at educating, diagnosing, and treating heart issues in women. Whenever you hear of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack you probably think of a crushing chest that radiates down the left arm, with shortness of breath and nausea. But it’s not always that for women.
I cared for too many women who had a heart attack and had none of those symptoms. One I’ll never forget: her only symptoms were increased fatigue and very, very slightly nauseated. But what woman who has a family, who is working in the home or outside the house isn’t fatigued all the time? I could go on and on with stories of women who had a heart attack and may have needed an intervention in the cath lab or heart bypass – who never had chest pain.
I wear red for all women, now and in the future, who end up with heart disease, with no family history and no typical symptoms of any heart issues. To me, wearing red on Wear Red Day is a commitment to bring more awareness to what heart issues can look like in women compared to their male counterparts."
Join us in raising awareness
We hope that you will join us in wearing red for awareness today. The good news is that February is American Heart Month, and raising awareness for heart conditions, such as heart disease and heart failure, can happen any day of the year!!
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