THE BLOG
01/19/2015 11:16 pm ET Updated Mar 21, 2015

Latina Women: The Heart of the Home

By Dr. Eduardo Sanchez

Latina women play a vital role in our families. They are the heart, el corazón, of the home, acting as gatekeepers for their loved ones' well-being. But it is their own hearts that are in danger.

Too often, Hispanic women are struck down by heart disease, their No. 1 killer.

So, as a community we need to help empower women to take care of their own health first, so they can be there for us. That's why the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women/Go Red Por Tu Corazón movement is so important.

Later this week, I have the privilege of hosting a Go Red luncheon in Miami with members of the national Hispanic media. I would like to thank our co-host, Telemundo news anchor María Celeste Arrarás for helping facilitate this important conversation. Together with our partners in all Hispanic media, AHA and Go Red can spread the word about how crucial it is for Latinas to take control of their health. It's an incredible opportunity to reach a widespread audience affected in so many ways by this killer disease.

Consider:

• Only one in three Hispanic women knows that heart disease is their No. 1 killer.
• Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.
• Only three in 10 Hispanic women say they have been informed they are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
• Only one in four Hispanic women is aware of treatment options.

This is not just a man's disease. One in three women die each year of heart disease and stroke, conditions that since 1984 have claimed more women than men.

Yet, 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes, lifestyle changes as simple as: cooking traditional foods with healthier ingredients; exercising as a family; asking for blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol checks; and even going grocery shopping together as a family for healthier foods.

We need all of you. Join our Go Red campaign. On Feb. 6, commit to sharing the symbol of increasing awareness about heart disease among Latinas and all women by participating in National Wear Red Day.

Visit GoRedForWomen.org or GoRedCorazon.org , nationally sponsored by Macy's, to learn how you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke--and be sure to tell every woman in your life.

Esto es para nuestras familias. Es para la mujer Latina.

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez is chief medical officer for prevention at the American Heart Association.