Missourians to Kick Off American Heart Month During National Wear Red Day on Friday Feb. 1

February’s featured survivors are Rocky and Lyla Valentine, a father-daughter duo from Springfield. Both Rocky and Lyla required heart transplants at a young age –– Rocky at just 13 and Lyla at not even a year –– due to dilated cardiomyopathy.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Missouri, taking the lives of 14,000 Missourians each year. The American Heart Association urges Missourians to support the fight against heart disease by participating in American Heart Month and wearing red on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 1.

American Heart Month is a federally designated event that takes place every February. During Heart Month, the American Heart Association encourages people to focus on their heart health and to inspire their family, friends and communities to do the same.

The first American Heart Month took place in February of 1964.

It was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in December of 1963.

At that time, more than half the deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading global cause of death, with more than 17.9 million deaths each year. That number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030.

Stroke ranks second globally and is a leading cause of severe disability.

Missourians can participate in American Heart Month on the American Heart Association’s Missouri Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and through the hashtag #GoRedMO. During February, Missourians are encouraged to post their picture making a heart with their hands and share why they will show more heart during American Heart Month with the hashtag #showMOheart. And in honor of American Heart Month, participating CVS MinuteClinics are offering no-cost heart health screenings every Thursday in February.

While nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes, cardiovascular diseases continue to be a woman’s greatest health threat. That’s why the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement, nationally sponsored by CVS Health, encourages people to show their support by wearing red on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 1. Missourians are encouraged to wear red and post their picture to social media with the hashtags #WearRedDay and #GoRedMO.

Why Wear Red?

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

One in three women are living with some form of cardiovascular disease.

Women die each year because they are unaware of their risks of heart disease.

90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease and stroke.

80 percent of heart disease is preventable through healthy lifestyle changes.

The American Heart Association recently launched #NoMOHeartDisease, a year-long initiative to reduce heart disease in Missouri. Through survivor stories, #NoMOHeartDisease educates Missourians on the risks and prevalence of heart disease, and the changes they can make to prevent it. February’s featured survivors are Rocky and Lyla Valentine, a father-daughter duo from Springfield. Both Rocky and Lyla required heart transplants at a young age–Rocky at just 13 and Lyla at not even a year–due to dilated cardiomyopathy.

Of why he chose to be part of the initiative, Rocky remarked, “My wife and I became involved with the American Heart Association shortly after our daughter received her heart transplant. My daughter and I have benefited first-hand from research funded by the AHA. #NoMOHeartDisease is an opportunity for us to use our experience to help educate people and reduce heart disease in Missouri. My hope is that people follow the initiative and become more involved in their own heart health.”

#NoMOHeartDisease is found at heart.org/nomoheartdisease. The American Heart Association also posts about the initiative on their Missouri Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

The American Heart Association funds scientific research that supports stronger, healthier communities. Over the last five years, the American Heart Association has provided more than $12 million to fund research studies in Missouri alone. During American Heart Month, people are encouraged to donate to help make a difference.