I was returning to Chicago the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and while waiting for my bag at the airport, I spotted a sign that said “Did You Know?” It was the work of the American Heart Association.
This is what the sign read:
Did You Know?
One in three women has some form of heart disease.
More women die of cardiovascular disease than the next five causes of death combined, including all cancers.
64% of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.
No, I didn’t know. And I’ve been thinking about these statements ever since. I had just been with my two sisters, laughing and catching up over the holiday. One in three women has some form of heart disease …
More than the next five causes combined … Ok, I knew heart disease is #1 and stroke is #3, so I looked up the other ones. Cancer is #2, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, a nonreversible persistent obstruction of the airways) is #4, diabetes #5, and Alzheimer’s #6.
When I think about, for example, all the effort and energy put forth by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to make education and research a priority, I wonder, how can this be?
I don’t think we have to know why as much as we need to decide what we are going to do about it. We (Women of the ELCA) have a health initiative, Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls, focused on heart health. We have been at this work of raising awareness and educating women and girls on heart health for a while now, but looking at these statistics, we need to kick our efforts up a notch.
For women of faith, this matter of the heart starts with the spirit. Let’s talk about what we need to do to make a difference in these statistics.