Kyleigh Wegener at the American Heart Association Go Red for Women event.
OKEMOS - Valentine’s Day is not the only reason for wearing red in February. The love month is also National Heart Month.
The first American Heart Month took place in February 1964 and was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Dec. 30, 1963, said Kyleigh Wegener, the Communications Associate for the American Heart Association in Okemos. Since then, February has been designated as National Heart Month, Wegener said.
“It’s important to realize that cardiovascular disease knows no borders,” Wegener said. “Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.6 million deaths each year.”
On a professional level, Wegener said she has acted as a spokesperson for the American Heart Association helping to promote their sugary drinks campaign, CPR in schools legislation, general heart health and stroke information in addition to working with volunteers and survivors to share their stories.
In her personal life, Wegener said she tries to bring as much of the American Heart Association’s guidelines into her home while actively promoting the work the association is doing onto her social media platforms.
“As a millennial, I know a lot of my friends on Facebook are not aware of some of the things that lead to heart disease,” Wegener said. “My goal is that by sharing our information on my personal page, they’ll make healthier choices and know what to do if they’re ever in a situation where they’re having a stroke or heart attack, or need to perform CPR.”
In addition to educating the general public, the American Heart Association of Okemos has brought legislation into schools helping to make hands-only CPR training a graduation requirement in Meridian Township, Wegener said.
“That means each year, Michigan graduates 100,000 new life-savers,” Wegener said.
In addition to the CPR training, the American Heart Association of Okemos has also brought programs like Kids Heart Challenge into Meridian Township schools.
“Through programs like Kids Heart Challenge, we are able to reach students in the Meridian Township area and teach them the importance of being active,” Wegener said.
Wegener stressed the importance of heart health. She said cardiovascular disease, listed as the underlying cause of death, accounted for 840,678 deaths in the United States, which is approximately one of every three deaths.
“Luckily, 80 percent of heart disease is preventable by being active, eating a healthy diet, controlling blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels, and by simply not smoking,” Wegener said.
In terms of wearing red, Wegener said the association is pushing for everyone to wear red in 2020.
“Next year we encourage everyone to wear red on National Wear Red Day on Feb. 7, 2020 to help raise awareness for women’s heart disease,” Wegener said.
For survivors and family members who would like to share their story with the American Heart Association of Okemos, or for more information, you can contact their office at 517-319-1044, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.