Many are aware of the Go Red for Women program in the United States, or at least recognize the iconic red dress symbol. However, many don’t realize that it is an international movement that dozens of countries have licensed and is dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and control of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women. The international Go Red for Women network raises awareness and funds to fight heart disease and stroke through events, information campaigns and lobbying of governments. In collaboration with the World Heart Federation (WHF) the American Heart Association (AHA) works with WHF member organizations to extend Go Red for Women around the world.
There currently 51 member organizations in 43 countries, most recently adding the Brazilian Society of Cardiology and the Pakistan Cardiac Society in March 2019.
CVD is the leading cause of death in women, claiming the lives of one in three women worldwide each year. Go Red for Women aims to encourage women to take care of their hearts, increase attention of medical professionals on CVD in women and prompt governments and policy-makers to make this topic high on their health agenda.
At Singapore Heart Foundation’s Go Red for Women Luncheon, held on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2019), survey results revealed that 85 percent of women in Singapore are unaware of how deadly heart disease is and that one in two women believe they are at little or no risk. The survey, conducted by the insurance company Manulife, polled 500 Singaporeans between the ages of 21 and 64. Results also showed that eight out of 10 Singaporeans thought that crushing chest pain is the only symptom of a heart attack, and did not know that women have different heart attack symptoms from men.
This survey is only one example of the challenge faced by many countries regarding the growing need to educate women on heart disease risk factors and how to recognize a heart attack. The need is especially critical in low- and middle-income countries whose primary disease burden has transitioned from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes in recent decades.
Moving forward, Go Red for Women aims to not only continue addressing awareness of heart disease risk internationally, but also explore how to improve women’s health and wellbeing by addressing gender inequities in education and quality care and supporting women in healthcare careers.