Help is not far away

The Go Red for Women initiative is nationally sponsored by Macy’s and includes a variety of products “sporting” the red dress logo in support of the movement.

About 82 million Americans have some form of heart disease.  Around 2,200 die from heart attacks, heart disease or stroke on a daily basis, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unfortunately, a heart attack can occur at any age, and you are never too young to start heart-healthy living. Some of us have risks that cannot be changed. Those include aging; male sex (men have a greater risk of heart attack than women and have them earlier in life); and heredity, which includes race. If your parents had heart disease, you have a higher chance of developing it. African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian-Americans have a higher heart disease risk than Caucasians. According to the American Heart Association, that makes it even more important to manage the risks that are in your power to change.

One of those is smoking cigarettes, which greatly increases the risk of coronary heart disease. High blood cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease, and can be changed to a certain extent. Cholesterol can also be affected by risks that cannot be changed such as age, sex and heredity, but by exercising and controlling your diet, some of the “bad” cholesterol can be reduced, and “good” cholesterol can be increased. High blood pressure can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. Though high blood pressure can be due to heredity in some cases, blood pressure is also affected by weight and smoking, which can be controlled.

Physical inactivity can increase the chances of heart disease. Working out on a regular basis, even at a moderate level can reduce the risk. People with diabetes have a much higher risk of heart disease or stroke, making it important to reduce other risk factors. Stress can also affect heart health. Find ways to reduce stress without adding other risk factors like smoking or overeating.

Whether you are at high risk and are searching for help with prevention, or are currently suffering with some form of cardiovascular disease, the following list is a sampling of many area organizations that provide resources or services for those affected by heart disease.

Go Red for Women – Nationally sponsored by Macy’s, Go Red for Women offers recipes, tips from celebrity trainers and other initiatives to help women eat healthier and lead a more heart-healthy lifestyle. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Heidi Klum have participated in the “Red Dress” initiatives to promote awareness of heart disease in women.

American Heart Association – An organization that has the latest news of heart disease, stroke and general health, and up-to-date recommendations for living longer with a healthier lifestyle.

Mercy Heart and Vascular Hospital St. Louis helps patients with atrial fibrillation, heart attacks, heart failure, valve problems, stroke prevention and other diseases. (314) 251-1100 or

Center for Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care, SSM Health, Saint Louis University Hospital delivers care for the treatment of coronary artery disease and heart failure from disease prevention to heart treatments and rehabilitation. (855) 974-3278 or

Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine – The Heart and Vascular Center provides help for aneurysm, heart rhythm disorders, cardiac surgery, heart disease prevention and a number of other heart-related services. Transplant Support and Resources offers heart, kidney and liver transplant surgeries. (314) 747-3000 or

Missouri Baptist – heart specialists treat many cardiovascular-related conditions, like aneurysms, coronary artery disease, heart attack, vascular disease, and valve disease. (314) 996-3627 or

Women Heart is the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, advocating early detection, accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. The organization provides education on symptoms of a heart attack for women, tips for care, angina and “silent” heart attacks.