Heart Awareness Month: For Women Only?

February is Black History Month, of course, but it’s Canned Food Month and National Grapefruit Month as well. Yesterday was Groundhog’s Day and later this month is Presidents’ Day, the three-day weekend set aside to honor our nation’s great leaders with low, low prices on mattresses and box springs.

Let’s not forget Thank a Mailman Day tomorrow, Kite Flying Day (on the 8th), Umbrella Day (the 10th), White T-Shirt Day (11th), Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day (11th), National Battery Day (18th), and Candlemas: a holiday that involves blessing candles (15th)…

If that wasn’t enough celebration jammed into the shortest month of the year, February is also American Heart Month. Twenty-eight days or so designated in 1964 by President Johnson’s signed decree to commemorate the organ that tirelessly pumps every red-blooded American’s American red blood. On top of that, someone recently decided that was too general, and now this is also “Women’s Heart Awareness Month.” Females from sea to shining sea are urged to be aware of their heart.GoRedForWomen button

Guys… We’re on our own. Of the 700,000 or so deaths each year in this country attributed to heart disease, two-thirds of them are men. And yet women’s hearts get all the awareness. Guys have hearts. Their hearts need awareness, too. I’m aware of my heart, acutely aware… Every twinge, every cramp or pain. I feel my pulse six, seven times a day.

Maybe they figure guys have other organs we’d rather be aware of. I hate to think it’s because guys’re considered expendable… Work thirty, forty years if you’re not laid off. Then keel over in a heap at our desk, unaware of your heart the whole time. Thank you, next! Slide him over; we need the chair.

To help women remain aware of their hearts for the next four weeks, a number of additional events are sprinkled throughout the month. The 7th is “National Wear Red for Women Day.” Women are urged to wear red this Friday, like wacky hat day at my kids’ high school. Men should avoid that band of the color spectrum until Saturday. Sorry fellas, rules are rules.

“Wear Red” shouldn’t be confused with “Go Red for Women.” That’s part of “America’s Go Red Challenge” where exclusively female participants are challenged to “go red.” We’ve been going green for many years now, recycling and turning off lights. Michigan fans Go Blue! on a regular basis. I’m not entirely sure how one goes red but I assume women are in the know.

Then there’s “The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection,” a designer fashion show where celebrity woman, wait for it--- wear red clothes to show their support for women’s heart health.

And the “Heart of Style Tour,” an airstream trailer that’s traveling the country this spring from one Burlington Coat Factory parking lot to another. It’s decorated on the inside with, according to their PR company, “plush, comfortable seating and stylish décor” where women can get their blood pressure and body mass index checked. Sounds like fun.

In case women don’t have a red thing to wear for these events, and they’re not near a Burlington Coat Factory, there’s the Red Dress Store--- a one-stop shop for lapel pins shaped like little red dresses, earrings shaped like little red dresses, leather key rings or water bottles with pictures of little red dresses on them, tote bags decorated with little red dress appliques, red dress rhinestone brooches, and many, many more red- or heart-related tchotchke just a mouse click away.

Nearly a million people in the US have heart attacks each year, less than half of them are woman. So why the female focus? Because no one wants to see a bunch of fat dudes, bright red t-shirts stretched across their beer guts, chatting with the weatherman on the morning news? Babes make for better photo ops? Or is it because we figure guys will never give up their double-cheese bacon burgers; they’re doomed anyway so why bother?

Heart disease is an equal opportunity killer. There are no boy hearts or girl hearts. A heart is a heart. Be aware of yours. Oh and, Happy Valentine’s Day…!

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