Going Red for the Cause

Caroline Stevenson, Staff Writer

Walking past Nurse Ellen Claflin’s office on Friday, February 1st, you may have noticed her room was decorated with many red items, or you might have wondered why she was collecting donations for a cause. What was this all about?

On Friday, February 1st, individuals across the country boasted the color red in honor of National Wear Red Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness surrounding women’s heart health and diseases that often go undiscussed and unacknowledged for many women.

For Claflin, this issue hits close to home, as both her mother and aunt inherited heart disease. In 2012, after having her mother suffer from a heart aneurysm and her aunt diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (characterized as having an abnormal heartbeat), Claflin started getting involved.

“Being a nurse and a woman, you want to raise awareness for this,” said Claflin. “Women need to know to have regular check-ups at the doctor to check their cholesterol levels, and blood pressure checks are key.” According to Claflin, many women often overlook–or are not well informed–of the dangers on their health.

Claflin encourages high school students to eat healthily, stay active, visit their doctor for regular checkups, and most importantly, check for possible risks within the family. She said many heart diseases are hereditary: “If you have a parent or an aunt or family member that has a heart condition that’s congenital, it can get passed down,” warned Claflin. “Especially for high school students getting older, it’s important to know.”

By the end of National Wear Red Day, Claflin had raised $130 to be donated to the American Heart Association for efforts in treating heart diseases and treatments.

However, just because Wear Red Day is over doesn’t mean the effort is over, too. Going forward, Claflin encourages students to be more informed about their heart health and any specific genetic conditions that run in their family. This information can ultimately lead to a better path of treatment and safety in the future.