Today is a day to wear red in support of the movement for women to take charge of heart health, so don’t leave your house this morning without putting on a red garment. This year marks the 12th anniversary of Wear Red, a campaign sponsored by the American Heart Association and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Traditionally thought to be a man’s disease; heart disease is the Number 1 killer of women. According to the AHA, both men and women may present “classic” chest pain that grips the chest and spreads to the shoulder, neck or arms. But, often women may have a greater tendency to have atypical chest pain or to complain of abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, nausea and unexplained fatigue. These symptoms are overlooked and often dismissed. Prior to the Wear Red campaign, heart disease claimed nearly 500,000 American women each year. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits will go a long way to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Eating a healthy diet and getting daily physical activity is a great start. Fill your plates with fruits and vegetables; they are high in nutrients and fiber while low in calories. Eat more whole grain foods, to be sure you are getting whole grains, read the ingredient labels and look for the words “whole-grains.” Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and low fat dairy foods. Weight management is another risk factor that can be controlled. Again, physical activity and a balanced diet will keep your weight where it needs to be. Sometimes all it takes is portion control and a 30 minute walk each day to see weight loss. Take your time. Aiming to lose one to two pounds per week is a healthier goal than a rapid weight loss. Visit your doctor yearly to keep a check on your blood pressure and cholesterol. Most Americans only go to a doctor when they are sick, but it is a good idea to get a yearly check up with screenings for blood pressure and cholesterol. Often times, healthier eating habits and increased physical activity can result in good numbers. The AHA also recommends if you smoke, quit and avoid 2nd hand smoke as much as possible. This can be difficult for many people. Consult your doctor for advice and guidance to with this challenge. For more information about Wear Red Day and risk factors that women face, go to goredforwomen.org. Additional information on National Heart Month can be found on the American Heart Association’s website at www.americanheart.org. For more information on healthful eating habits and nutrition, contact the Madison County Extension Service. The University of Florida Extension – Madison County is an Equal Employment Opportunity Institution.