Iowans are encouraged to clothe themselves in something red today as a way to draw attention to a critical health issue.

Lauren Livingston, spokeswoman for the Iowa chapter of the American Heart Association, says Wear Red Day events aim to raise awareness about heart disease, the leading cause of death in Iowa.

“Lots of businesses are doing activities,” Livingston says. “They might have heart health tables set up at their offices or they might be going on company walks, anything to promote heart health. They’re sharing pictures on social media of themselves wearing red.

Across the nation, there are lots of Go Red for Women luncheons.” Almost 7,000 Iowans die of heart disease every year, the leading cause of death in Iowa since 1920. Coronary heart disease is responsible for about one of every five deaths in Iowa. While the numbers are grim, she says there is cause for optimism.

“It’s affecting one in three people in America which is a huge number but, the good news is that 80% of heart disease and stroke is preventable through healthy lifestyle changes,” Livingston says. “That’s one of the big messages that we try to convey during Heart Month and throughout the year.”

Events include the Des Moines Heart Ball on February 10th, with Heart Walks planned later in Des Moines and Sioux City and a Go Red for Women event in Ames.

(Thanks to Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)