'Go Red for Women' fights battle against heart disease
"The American Heart Association is promoting 'Go Red for Women' that day to make people aware that heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death for women," said Schmidle, vice president of the town's VNA and coordinator of the heart association's drive in town. "The color red is becoming a national symbol for women and heart disease. Schmidle, would also like to see a crowd of Newtown residents in front of Edmond Town Hall at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 6. That's when a big, red floral heart donated by Newtown Florist will be unveiled and First Selectman Herb Rosenthal will declare Feb. 6 "Heart Health Day in Newtown." "After the ceremony, people are invited for coffee at My Place Restaurant," she said. Besides Rosenthal, the Newtown Woman's Club, the Newtown Business and Professional Women's Club, other clubs and organizations, the Newtown Health District, and its medical advisor, Dr. Thomas Draper, who will be wearing a red tie, and state Rep. Julia Wasserman are among those supporting this effort. One of the reasons for such widespread support is that "this is a crucial issue for women," Schmidle said, "and there doesn't seem to be much emphasis on it. There is more emphasis on men and heart disease, but it affects women, too. "Look at these statistics," she said as she held a printout from the AHA. Included in the data was such information as: Heart disease and stroke are, respectively, the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of women over the age of 25. Sixty-three percent of women who suddenly die of heart disease had no previous symptoms of the disease. Every year since 1984, more women than men have died of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. The difference in deaths currently is more than 65,000 each year. "It critical that women be as aware as possible about heart and cardiovascular disease," she concluded after reviewing the data. To heighten awareness about this health concern, information about heart and other cardiovascular diseases will be available at Edmond Town Hall, Newtown Florist, C.H. Booth Library, The Newtown Health Department and Children's Adventure Center. Newtown is far from alone in its effort on behalf of women and heart disease. Dr. Andrew Keller, interim chief of cardiology at Danbury Hospital and director of its echocardiography section, also advocates efforts such as Go Red for Women. "Heart disease is frequently unrecognized in women," he said. "Ten years ago most people thought that heart disease was a man's disease. That's not true today. Now it's recognized as a disease that afflicts both sexes. It's important that women recognize they have the potential for the disease." Danbury Hospital, Keller said, is developing a program for women to recognize heart disease as well as raise awareness about it. For more information about the Feb. 6 Go Red for Women campaign in Newtown, call (203) 426-6264. The VNA also does free blood pressure screenings. Call (203) 270-4377 for details. Contact the American Heart Association in Connecticut at (203) 294-0088.