The Heart Truth

This month I decided that we’d do a few blogs all focused around the month of February.  Last week we looked at February’s birthstone and how the hot colour of amethyst is making a splash in 2012.  This week I thought it was fitting to share with you that February is the Heart & Stroke Foundations The Heart Truth month.

The Truth is…


Eat better. Eat different. Move more. Work less. Sleep more. Worry less. Breathe deeper; We often hear these words or phrases from friends, family, health professionals & the media. At every turn, we’re bombarded with advice on how to be healthier and happier. However most of us are too buried under an avalanche of to-do’s to take the time to focus on ourselves.

Putting ourselves last is something we’re quite familiar with. As caregivers women are the ones making sure that kids are fed and curfews are met. That aging parents take their medication and keep their doctor’s appointments. That birthday presents are bought and wrapped and that everyone and everything gets taken care of at any hour–even if our own health suffers.

How often do we hear ourselves say there’s only so many hours in a day? Prioritizing ourselves would be easier if we weren’t always racing from one thing to another.  Work, after school activities, grocery shopping and more. There aren’t enough hours in the day, but we try our best.

It’s time to start putting yourself first!  Perhaps it’s not about crossing every task or item off your list– but putting yourself at the top and working your way down. The rewards are worth it:

  • living long enough to meet the (nice) girl your son finally brings home
  • being there for graduations or weddings
  • having coffee and long walks at the country cottage you’ve always dreamed of
  • watching your new granddaughter wrap her tiny fingers around yours for the very first time

The Truth Is, it’s time to shuffle our priorities so we’re one of them. Heart disease and stroke is the #1 killer of women in Canada – more than all cancers combined. But all that can change if we turn some of that love and attention our own way, and start making ourselves a priority.

What is the Red Dress?

The Red Dress is the official symbol of The Heart Truth campaign. It’s feminine, strong and confident, capturing the spirit of the cause in a symbol that women across Canada can identify with and feel proud of. The Red Dress represents women’s courage and passion and their power for change as they share the truth with others and raise awareness about the importance of heart health.

Women can show their support by purchasing a Red Dress pin, at your local Heart and Stroke Foundation Office. Red Dress pins are striking conversation-starters that help women to share the truth with others. For every pin sold, 100 per cent of net proceeds are contributed to the campaign.

Each year, the Red Dress symbol comes to life on the runway as top Canadian fashion designers create original red dress designs in celebration of women and heart health awareness. The Heart Truth Fashion Show takes place in March. The events are star-studded affairs, with top designers unveiling original red dress creations modeled by some of the country’s most celebrated women.

Know the signs…

Being able to know what the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke are could save your life. Every minute counts during the onset of a heart attack or stroke—the more quickly you receive medical treatment the more likely you are to survive and the better your chances are of a more complete recovery.

Women often experience the same symptoms as men do, but women and men don’t respond to a heart attack in the same ways. Women are less likely to believe they’re having a heart attack, and they are more likely to put off seeking treatment.

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Chest discomfort (uncomfortable chest pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, burning or heaviness)
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body (neck, jaw, shoulder, arms, back)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness

Stroke Symptoms

  • Weakness: Sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg, even if temporary.
  • Trouble speaking: Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding or sudden confusion, even if temporary.
  • Vision problems: Sudden trouble with vision, even if temporary.
  • Headache: Sudden severe and unusual headache.
  • Dizziness: Sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs.

Although symptoms are generally the same for men and women, women can sometimes experience symptoms that are less definite, such as chest discomfort rather than pain.  For women, chest pain may not be the first sign of heart trouble. Women have reported experiencing unusual tiredness, trouble sleeping, problems breathing, indigestion, and anxiety up to a month or so before the heart attack.

(Download a wallet card with signs and symptoms & take the Heart & Stroke Foundations quiz and learn about your risks.)

*content courtesy of The Heart & Stroke Foundation

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