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Red Dress Sunday/Sabbath—Women and Heart Disease

Faith, health, and healing have been intertwined since ancient times.  Today the message of health and hope is as powerful and important as ever.

  • At this service, I am sharing an urgent message about heart health with all the women of our congregation/temple and those who love them.  Most women don't know their biggest health threat. It's not breast cancer.   It's not AIDS.  It's heart disease.  Yet most women still think heart disease is a man's disease.  A new slogan says it well:  "Heart Disease Doesn't Care What You Wear—It's the #1 Killer of Women."
  • Today is Red Dress Sunday/Sabbath, and we have asked the women in our congregation/temple to wear a red dress as a powerful visual reminder to take care of their hearts.  Our wives, mothers, daughters, nieces, and granddaughters need to learn the truth about heart disease:
    • One of every four American women dies of heart disease.
    • About 6 million American women have coronary heart disease.
    • Two-thirds of American women who have had a heart attack don't make a full recovery.
    • Heart disease can permanently damage your heart and your life.
  • But there's good news too.  At our service today we are celebrating a message of hope and heart health.  We are supporting a nationwide awareness campaign called The Heart Truth that is being sponsored by the Federal government and many other national and community organizations.
  • Today's Red Dress Sunday/Sabbath has one main purpose—to remind everyone, and women in particular—that our hearts are not only important spiritually, but physically as well.  To have a healthy heart, it is critical to know the risk factors for heart disease—that is, the behaviors or conditions that increase your chance of getting heart disease.  They are:
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Diabetes
    • Smoking
    • Being overweight
    • Being physically inactive
    • Having a family history of early heart disease
    • Age (55 or older for women)
  • Having just one risk factor increases your chance of developing heart disease.  And your risk skyrockets with each added risk factor.
  • Now that you know The Heart Truth about the dangers of heart disease, it's time to take action to protect your heart.  Martin Luther King said:  "The belief that God will do everything for man is as untenable as the belief that man can do everything for himself.  It, too, is based on a lack of faith.  We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition."
  • God has given us the job of keeping ourselves healthy.  For women—the caretakers in our lives—this means taking time to care for themselves.  We all have the power to prevent or control heart disease, and we can do this by taking simple steps.  Here's how:
    • Don't smoke, and if you do, quit.  Women who smoke are two to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smoking women. Smoking also boosts the risk of stroke and cancer.
    • Aim for a healthy weight.  It's important for a long, vigorous life. Overweight and obesity cause many preventable deaths.
    • Get moving.  Make a commitment to be more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
    • Eat for heart health.  Choose a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, and moderate in total fat.
    • Know your numbers.  Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides), and blood glucose. Work with your doctor to improve any numbers that are not normal.
  • Making the changes that lead to heart health is not always easy, but with God's help, we can find the courage and strength to take action.  And I ask all of you to look around at the women in our congregation/temple in their red dresses and offer them your prayers and your hand to help support them in achieving healthy hearts and longer life.

Facts for Congregations with African American Members

  • For African American women, the risk of heart disease is especially great.   Heart disease is more prevalent among black women than white women, as are some of the factors that increase the risk of developing it—high blood pressure, overweight, and diabetes.
  • More than 80 percent of midlife African American women are overweight or obese, 52 percent have high blood pressure, and 14 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes.

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