Every 80 seconds, a woman dies from cardiovascular disease.

It’s the No. 1 killer of women, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

Statistics like these are what drive the mission of the American Heart Association and its local chapter. The American Heart Association’s mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Its members work to combat these statistics because 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.

As a part of the national Go Red for Women movement, the St. Louis chapter will host its annual Go Red for Women Luncheon on Feb. 3 at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. One of the focuses of the Go Red campaign this year is to “Know Your Numbers.”

Board member Dr. Toniya Singh says there are five numbers all women should know to take control of their heart health. These numbers are total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI). Knowing these numbers, she says, can help women and their health care providers determine their risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

Some red flags to look for in heart health are a BMI more than 25, blood pressure higher than 120/80, blood sugar higher than 100 and cholesterol higher than 200.

Luckily, Singh says, 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.

“We recommend avoiding saturated fats in excess,” she says. “Having a diet that’s a good mix of polyunsaturated fats, proteins and carbohydrates in moderation is good.”

Singh also recommends keeping an eye on your salt intake, along with avoiding processed food and sugary soft drinks.

“It’s important to understand your symptoms and know your numbers,” she says. “If you have risk factors, family history or smoke, getting yourself to a health care provider is especially important. Many women develop fatigue and shortness of breath but think nothing of it. Pay attention to what your body is telling you.”

On a personal level, Singh says the American Heart Association is near and dear to her heart.

“Since I’m a cardiologist, this is my life’s work,” she says. “There are so many things we can do in terms of improving people’s knowledge about the things they can do to prevent heart attacks or strokes.”

Education is the biggest aspect of this, she says.

“We need to educate people about risk factors, provide communities with things like more parks and walking paths, and prevent children from getting into smoking and sugary drinks,” she says. “I believe strongly in the mission of the American Heart Association because it makes a difference in people’s lives and the quality of their lives.”

American Heart Association, 460 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, 314-692-5635, heart.org

Enjoy a silent auction and health screenings at this luncheon, which teaches you how to be heart-healthy and how to help others to do so as well.

Call 314-692-5661 or email El Rogers at el.rogers@heart.org to learn more.

Robyn is LN's digital editor and a staff writer. Proud alumna of Notre Dame High School in St. Louis and Eastern Illinois University. Avid coffee drinker, dog lover, concertgoer and word nerd.

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