As American Heart Month, February celebrates love and heart health


Courtesy of The American Heart Association

McKenzie Jean-Philippe

The month of February is widely known to be a time of love. Hundreds of dollars are spent on flowers, chocolates and romantic dates to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

However, focusing on a different matter of the heart, the American Heart Association celebrates February as American Heart Month to promote awareness of heart disease.

Heart disease, which causes heart attacks or strokes, is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States.

Facts about heart disease

  • Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 women, but it’s 80% preventable.
  • While 1 in 31 American women die from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
  • For younger women, a combination of birth control pills and smoking increases risks by 20%.
  • Symptoms of heart disease vary between men and women. Instead of intense chest pain, women experience shortness of breathe, nausea, back or jaw pain, dizziness, lightheadedness and pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for African American women.
  • Of African American women ages 20 and older, 46.9 percent have cardiovascular disease.
  • Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.
  • Only 1 in 3 Hispanic women are aware that heart disease is their number one killer.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen.
  • Steps to prevent it: Don’t smoke, manage your blood sugar, get your blood pressure under control, lower your cholesterol, know your family history, stay active, lose weight, eat healthy.

Unfortunately, the disease is highly underrated among the female community because many are unaware of the symptoms or don’t take the steps to prevent heart failure.

According to, heart disease can be caused by certain lifestyle choices. Smoking, eating unhealthily, genetics and high cholesterol are just somefactors that can cause the disease if they aren’t managed correctly.  

“One in three woman die from heart disease every year. It kills more than cancer,” said Jenna Brinker, a graduate assistant at the Women’s Center. “Women are impacted at a greater rate than men. Because we are a minority group, that’s very important to recognize.”

In an effort to promote heart health amongst women, Brinker emphasizes participation in National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 6.

Kent State student organizations and departments of faculty and staff are encouraged to wear red on National Wear Red Day. They can take a group selfie and post it on social media with the hashtag “#KSUGORED” in order to promote the cause.

All students are welcome to participate, whether they wear red shoelaces or a red hat.

Aside from the Women’s Center, the Alpha Phi sorority is another organization on campus that promotes women’s heart health.

Since 1956, the sorority has dedicated itself to improving awareness of the issue through The Alpha Phi Foundation.

“(Women’s heart health) is looked over,” said Ashley Perry, president of Kent’s Alpha Phi chapter. “We’ve had sisters who have suffered from heart disease. Since it’s a lesser known issue, I’m glad that we can pinpoint that and raise awareness.”

Throughout the week, Alpha Phi will be hosting events to raise money for their foundation.

In Cartwright Hall on Friday, Feb. 6, from 8 to 11 p.m. the sorority will be hosting “King of Hearts,” which is a male beauty pageant. Tickets will be sold for $7 until Feb. 5 in the Student Center and for $8 at the door. Proceeds will go to their foundation.

Saturday, the sorority will host Red Dress Gala, an annual event for the sorority.

Perry said that in 2014 they were able to raise $31,000 and hope to raise $35,000 this year.

The ultimate goal of the Women’s Center and Alpha Phi is to promote heart health awareness amongst Kent students.

Women as young as 20 are encouraged to go to the doctor and get their cholesterol checked. The earlier people take steps towards preventing heart disease, the less likely they are to develop it at an older age.

“On a college campus, my worry is that students don’t think (heart disease) applies to them,” Brinker said. “But really, prevention starts now in the way that we live our lives. What we eat, what we do with our time…we can start preventing those risk factors that cause heart disease.”

McKenzie Jean-Philippe at [email protected].