By Sarah Boerkircher


The perfect gift this Valentine’s Day may surprise you. While February is often synonymous with Valentine’s Day, February also marks American Heart Month, dedicated to encouraging men and women to make small changes that establish healthy habits that can lead to a lifetime of heart health. So this Valentine’s Day, instead of gifting roses or chocolates, give the gift of heart health to your loved ones.


It is a common misconception that heart disease affects more men than women. Entertainment media frequently portrays men having heart attacks. However, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), cardiovascular disease in the United States kills approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Many women have no idea that the symptoms of heart disease are very different for them.

The good news is that, as the AHA says, 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. And they aim to help women everywhere learn how to make those changes happen.

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women is the world’s largest network of women standing together to save women’s lives from heart disease, a disease that is often called the “the silent killer”. Many women do not notice the symptoms of heart disease until it is too late. Go Red for Women strives to increase awareness of the signs, prevalence and treatment of heart disease in women.

One way Go Red for Women is inspiring women to make lifestyle changes to improve their health is through education and programming in the community. Go Red for Women’s “Have Faith in Heart” initiative is held during the month of February, which is known as American Heart Month. The initiative started in Lexington in November 2012, beginning with programs held at Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church at 540 West Maxwell Street with the support of the Pastor, Rev. Dr. T.H. Peoples, Jr., and Shiloh Baptist Church at 237 East Fifth Street with the support of the Pastor, Rev. Dr. Joseph L. Owens.

“Have Faith in Heart is a passionate, emotional and social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health,” said Go Red for Women’s Passion Committee Chairperson Ava Henry. “The program is designed to make women more aware of heart disease and stroke, risk factors and symptoms, and urges women to make simple lifestyle choices to reduce their risk.”

Have Faith in Heart is an educational opportunity designed to promote the Go Red for Women movement in a faith-based setting, primarily targeting minorities because heart disease and stroke affects minorities more frequently and more aggressively than caucasians. Risk factors for heart disease and stroke start earlier among African Americans, so in Lexington, efforts are focused on the predominantly African-American churches.

Church leaders are encouraged to identify a Sunday (or appropriate day for their faith) when their congregation can “Go Red”.

“Through our efforts over the last six years, we have provided blood pressure screenings for nearly 3,500 members of various churches and distributed educational materials,” Ava said. “It is truly important for everyone to have their blood pressure checked and to make necessary lifestyle changes to keep their blood pressure numbers in line.”

By partnering with Passport Insurance and KentuckyOne Health, Have Faith in Heart is able to provide blood pressure screenings, educational information and access to resources available to those affected by heart disease and stroke in the community, as well as to those who are at-risk.

“The American Heart Association believes in meeting people where they are and through the Have Faith in Heart events, we can do just that,” said Go Red for Women’s Director Rachel Furnish. “We work with the local Go Red for Women Cause Partners, KentuckyOne Health and Passport Health Plan to provide education and health screenings in the local community.”

Millions have united to raise awareness for heart disease, the Number One killer of women. As Rachel explained, with help, many more lives can be saved.

“Over the past 10 years, twice the amount that has been raised through donations and fundraising has been given back to the community through grants and other funding,” said Rachel. “If you are interested in making a difference for your mother, sister, friend or your local community, donations can be sent to the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Movement. Heart Month is a great opportunity to provide further education and awareness to the entire community about cardiovascular health.”

Save the Date:  Have Faith in Heart

Have Faith in Heart is an educational opportunity designed to promote the Go Red For Women movement in a faith-based setting, primarily targeting minorities, but all are welcome. Please save the dates for the following Have Faith in Heart events:

• February 11th

   Shiloh Baptist Church

• February 25th

   Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church

Did You Know? 

90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke.

More than 40 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases.

Women have a higher lifetime risk of stroke than men.

Fewer women than men survive their first heart attack.

Cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year.

80% of heart disease and stroke events may be prevented through lifestyle changes and education.

Save the Date: National Wear Red Day®

February 2, 2018

In the early 2000s, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute worked together to take on a disease that was claiming the lives of nearly half a million American women each year. Now every year since 2004, the first Friday in February is known as National Wear Red Day. Go Red For Women encourages you to wear red on National Wear Red Day® and to donate to Go Red For Women. By doing so, you can help support educational programs to increase awareness and education about cardiovascular health.

For more information, please visit:

Want to make a donation?

American Heart Association, Go Red for Women Movement

354 Waller Avenue, Suite 110

Lexington, KY 40504