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National Woman's Heart Day

Heart disease in women can lead to heart attack, stroke, and death. In fact, it is the number one killer of women in the United States. National Woman's Heart Day was created to expand the prevention of heart disease in women, by working to reduce risk factors and providing and encouraging regular heart-health screenings. It is a day to get women to realize their risks, as these risks can be reduced if they are known, and it is a day when "fairs" have been set up to help put women on a path towards a healthy heart.

Taking place during American Heart Month, National Woman's Health Day was first observed in 2001 and was started by Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson and by Sister to Sister: Everyone has a Heart Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded by Irene Pollin. The organization exists to expand access to heart disease screenings and to information related to heart disease and maintaining a healthy heart, and to increase awareness about heart disease in women and to encourage healthy lifestyles. In the past, the National Women's Health Resource Center has joined Sister to Sister in supporting the day.

On the day, health fairs with a wide range of services have been held in cities across the country. They have included free heart disease screenings with same-day results, which have contained a risk assessment questionnaire, a blood pressure check, and blood tests checking glucose and cholesterol. The fairs have also included the providing of information by nationally known experts on heart disease and women, national and local celebrities, chefs and fitness trainers providing heart-healthy tips, interactive exhibits, and nutrition.

The first fair was held in Washington, D.C. in 2001. Mayor Anthony Williams and Tommy Thompson gave opening remarks, and proclamations for the day were issued by the mayor and county officials. By 2004, health fairs were being held in six cities. There were fairs in 12 cities in 2005 and in 17 cities in 2008.

How to Observe

Check to see if there is a National Woman's Heart Day event taking place in your city. If not (it appears this day was most-celebrated during the 2000s), or if you can't attend an event, talk to your physician or health care provider about getting a heart-health screening.

You can also use the day to focus on reducing the risk factors for heart disease you have an influence over. Although family history and age and some types of diabetes are risk factors you can't change, high cholesterol and blood pressure, smoking, lack of physical activity, and obesity can all be taken on. You can use the day to focus on quitting smoking, tweaking your exercise routine, formulating a healthy diet, keeping your weight in check, and getting a heart-health screening where you can begin keeping a more watchful eye on your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

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