The month of February is popularly known as Black History Month and the month we celebrate our romantic partners on Valentine’s Day. February is also known as Heart Health Awareness month in which scores of organizations work valiantly to end the fight against heart disease. Heart Health Awareness month was first established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in December of 1963. President Johnson urged Americans to pay close attention to the problem of heart related diseases and to support programs committed to finding solutions to this health issue impacting millions of Americans. Fast forward nearly 60 years later and Americans are still in the fight against heart disease which is the leading cause of death for men and women in this country.

Black women’s organizations like Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, The Links, Incorporated and Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated have partnered with organizations like The American Heart Association (AHA) to help fight heart disease which is the leading cause of death of women.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke with more than 40 million volunteers and supporters. Each year, the AHA partners with a myriad of organizations to raise awareness, educate people on the risk factors of heart disease and to promote heart healthy lifestyles and practices.  Go Red for Women campaign is AHA’s signature women’s initiative and is a comprehensive platform designed to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally. As part of the Go Red for Women campaign, women across the globe wear the color red on National Wear Red Day.

In partnership with the American Heart Association, each year the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. participate in Pink Goes Red Community Impact Day initiative to raise awareness around issues of heart disease. This year the nation’s first sorority for collegiate Black women, focused their programming on heart disease and diabetes which disproportionately impacts African American populations and is a risk factor for heart disease. Chapters across the globe curated programming around heart related issues and recommitted to existing programming like “Walking  with the Supreme” in which members pledge to walk 8,000 steps each day to improve heart health.

The Camellia Rose Chapter of The Links, Incorporated hosts a livestream discussion, “Go Red, Live Bold, Live Fierce, Live Healthy,” to raise awareness of heart disease, communicate risk factors for African-American women and hear a story from heart disease survivor Elma J. Browning McKay who is a member of the Links and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Camellia Rose member Juliet Hall (top right) hosted the discussion, which featured a presentation by Dr. Jennifer Mieres. (PHOTO: TBW)

The Links, Incorporated also celebrates heart health through their #GreenGoesRed initiative with programming that underscores HeartLinks, their signature program dedicated to fighting heart disease established in 2005. Black women’s civic organizations understand how heart disease uniquely impacts African American communities in general and Black women specifically.  According to the AHA,  cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African American women annually. Of African American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart diseases. While heart disease affects African American women disproportionately, only 1 in 5 African American women believes she is personally at risk and only 58% of African American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Only 36% of African American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk. Black women’s civic organizations like The Links, Incorporated curate programming to combat these troubling statistics.

Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated also works diligently to raise awareness about heart disease and how it impacts Black families through their partnership with the AHA and robust social media campaigns #JJGoesRed and ongoing programming around addressing health issues. Every 80 seconds, heart disease claims a woman’s life which can be devastating to families in our community. With 252 chapters representing 40,000 families, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is acutely aware of the importance mothers play in improving the lives of all children.

Black women’s civic organizations understand the importance of combatting heart disease which is the leading killer of all women in this country.  They collaborate with organizations like the American Heart Association and the National Heart and Lung and Blood Institutes  of the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI) among others to educate, inform and inspire Black women to be proactive in the fight against heart disease. Black women can win this fight by knowing risk factors, making heart healthy lifestyle changes and being proactive in their medical care and self-advocacy as a patient.

To learn more about the symptoms of heart attack and stroke and how you can combat these ailments, visit the American Heart Association.

This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire.  Follow Nsenga on Instagram or Twitter @Ntellectual  or @TheBurtonWire  

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