Students see ‘Red’ when it comes to heart disease

With Valentine’s Day coming up, thoughts often turn to hearts breaking. Such victims may feel like the world is ending.

But this February, the Wellness Center is seeking to inform students that broken hearts can be deadly. The American Heart Association reports that two out of every five american women’s deaths come from heart disease.

That equals 5.4 more deaths than the one in eight deaths caused by breast cancer every year. So, on Feb. 1, the Wellness Center and AHA teamed up to bring awareness of the illness to Northern Kentucky University. Tables covered in scarlet cloths and people in all shades of red transformed the University Center from its dull gray into a vibrant crimson scene.

According to Amy Smythe, an AHA representative, NKU was the only university in the area interested in increasing heart disease consciousness.

That day was National Wear Red Day. Anyone sporting a shade of red received free benefits from the Wellness Center.

NKU nursing students were offering free blood pressure screenings and lung assessments. There was a waiting list for professional chair massages and opportunities to win flowers from Meijer. Women representatives from the AHA were also offering healthy heart tips and information involving heart disease.

Political Science and criminal justice professor Jill Shelley gave the keynote speech, describing her own battle with heart health. She had jokingly said she was having a heart attack – a few hours later Shelley was rushed to the hospital for treatment.

“One thing I didn’t know about heart attacks is that women experience them much differently from men,” Shelley said. “It actually took a female nurse to recognize my heart attack.”

Since going through recovery, Shelley said she realized that heart problems are common among women. She described some of her best friends who, regardless of age or weight, had discovered they were in danger. She provided tips for increasing heart health, which included drinking a glass of red wine each day and eating salmon.

“Pay attention to your bodies,” Shelley said. “Don’t allow yourself to be dismissed by a doctor because you’re too young.”