February is American Heart month, with a particular focus on women's heart disease. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer, which actually surprised me when I first heard this years ago. I suppose with all of the big awareness campaigns for breast cancer awareness month in October, I had always assumed otherwise. I'm glad to see that after all these years of building their awareness campaign, the Go Red For Women campaign is finally coming into its own in terms of really beginning to get the message across. This year is particularly poignant to me as I've experienced two friends (younger than myself) and my own mom having small strokes within the last couple of months. And Friday the 7th was designated National Wear Red day (I did) to really emphasize the importance of this deadly killer.
Of course women aren't the only ones that can have heart disease. We're certainly not leaving out the guys on this one. But there are big differences in symptoms and quite honestly a big difference in terms of how we handle those symptoms. But the dollar cost for everyone with heart disease can be staggering. According to the CDC:
In 2009, the economic costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke were estimated at $475.3 billion, including $313.8 billion in direct medical expenses and $161.5 billion in indirect costs ($39.1 billion in lost productivity due to sickness or disability and $122.4 billion lost productivity due to premature death).
They go on to say:
Four of the top 10 most expensive health conditions to U.S. employers are related to heart disease and stroke.
In one study analyzing employee health insurance claims of large businesses, the annual mean payment for those with heart-related claims was more than double the average payment of claims for all other conditions.
Now, while I'm sure that I'm preaching to the choir in regards to organizations knowing that heart disease is costing you big time, I'm just wondering what organizations do to help inform through their internal communication campaigns as well as through their wellness programs to fight this disease and create awareness to their employees as well as their families. Sometimes it takes some startling facts like these wrapped up in a month like this to help drive the message home. Bring awareness this month regarding their risks that both men and women should be looking for, and how to help make some positive changes to alleviate those risks.
You know, it was no accident that American Heart Month is also the month that we celebrate Valentine's Day. So while we're looking for those healthy alternatives, perhaps this Valentine's Day Cupid's arrow will send dark chocolate and red wine, both boasting heart healthy benefits. Let's get on the bandwagon and Go Red!