I am a woman in my 40s. I am the daughter of two parents with a family history of heart disease. I have worked behind the scenes in health care for nearly 20 years. As a wife and mother, my husband and I have made a concerted effort to equip our two children — a boy and a girl — with the knowledge and habits of truly healthy living. Sound familiar? Despite how many women fit these descriptions, it never ceases to amaze me how many women fall victim to our nation’s No. 1 silent killer — heart disease — daily.

Taking the lives of more American women than all forms of cancer combined, heart disease can be prevented. And with the strength of health-care providers, advocates and women coming together as a nation, the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women 2013 campaign is a promising effort that has the power to save lives.

As this year’s chairwoman of our local Go Red for Women committee of the American Heart Association, I am passionate about calling upon each and every woman in our community to act. Only one in five women realize that heart disease is her No. 1 health threat.

So take charge — know your risk factors, maintain healthy eating habits, exercise, don’t smoke, and see your doctor every year. Importantly, as women, we must pay this forward — for the sake of our daughters, granddaughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins and friends. And health-care research shows that women make 82 percent of health-care decisions for our families — meaning that we also have the power to influence the men in our lives.

On Feb. 1, Go Red for Women is celebrating its 10th annual National Wear Red Day. Women and men across the country will wear red in support of the movement to prevent heart disease in women.

Please join us in our efforts to reverse the statistics — there is strength in numbers, and together, we have the power to educate, commit and make difference. For more information about how to get involved, visit http://heart.org/batonrougegored.

Dionne Viator

2013 Go Red for Women chairwoman

Baton Rouge