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By Alice Till

PhRMA executive and staff portraits, Wednesday, February 20, 2013.Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, in the USA and worldwide. This statistic represents individuals from all walks of life, including pharmaceutical scientists who are dedicated to improving global health through the discovery, development, and manufacture of safe and effective, life-saving drug therapies.

In 2002, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) launched The Heart Truth, a national education program for women that raises awareness about heart disease and its risk factors and educates and motivates them to take action to prevent the disease. The Red Dress, centerpiece of The Heart Truth, is a red alert that inspires women to take action to protect their heart health. The primary message driving The Heart Truth is: “Heart Disease Doesn’t Care What You WearIt’s the #1 Killer of Women®.” National Wear Red Day® is a day of action to show support for women and heart disease awareness. On the first Friday in February each year, women and men across the United States (and around the world) can unite in the movement to give women a personal and urgent wake-up call about their risk of heart disease.

In addition to wearing red on National Wear Red Day (February 6) to raise awareness of the risk of heart disease in women (and in men), I’d like to challenge my fellow pharmaceutical scientists (and other professionals in the health care field) to use this day as well to mark the beginning of, or recommitment to, a life-style that serves to minimize your risk of heart disease, thereby ensuring a healthy pool of scientists and health care providers who will continue to provide access to needed medicines. You can make a difference for yourself, your loved ones, and the patients who are waiting.

Alice Till walks to and from the AAPS office.

Alice Till walks to and from the AAPS office.

Research in the Journal of American College of Cardiology (2014; 64(5); 472-481), which was noted in recent issues of both Women’s Running and Runner’s World, concluded that something as simple as “running even five to 10 minutes/day and at slow speeds is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.” Other excellent tips for meeting my challenge can be found online. And for more motivation, check out the CharityMiles app to make your walking, running, and biking miles for cardio fitness make a “difference” in other ways as well! Every time I walk to and from the AAPS office, I not only enjoy an hour of heart-healthy exercise, but one more dollar goes to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) for blood cancer research and patient support. In fact, the app has raised more than a million dollars for all of the 25 sponsored charities over the past year, and I am glad to be “doing my part” in the upcoming New Orleans half marathon!

Alice Till, Ph.D., is the 2015 AAPS president.