National Wear Red Day may only come once a year, but Star Jones, a TV personality, attorney, and national volunteer for the American Heart Association, said she works all year round to educate women on their risks for heart disease.
"A lot of people still think of [heart disease] as an old white dude disease," Jones said, but it's the "number one killer of all women, number one killer of black people, number one killer of all Americans," she said. "I'm three for three and I want people to understand what their risks are."
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists heart disease as the "leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States."
Ten years ago, Jones had open heart surgery, the "full-blown open heart surgery where they take your heart out of your body and do surgery on it," she notes. Initially, she had attributed symptoms like fatigue, intense heart palpitations, and lightheadedness when standing to being overweight. Now she knows these are warnings for heart disease for women.
She said her previous lifestyle "should have screamed heart disease," but she did not recognize the symptoms. Particularly now, she said, when demographic groups like millennials operate on "lack of sleep and addition of stress," they are adding to their cardiovascular risk. Jones said people need to know their personal health numbers like blood sugar and BMI, stop smoking, eat less, and move more.