School board staff goes red for American Heart Month

Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2024

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Staff members at the Crenshaw County Public Schools Central Office dressed in red on Feb. 1 in observance of National Wear Red Day. The initiative, held on the first Friday of February, aims to raise awareness about heart disease, the leading cause of death among women in the United States.

Superintendent Dodd Hawthorne said that although wearing red is a small gesture when it comes to raising awareness about heart disease, he is proud of the office staff for their steadfast support of American Heart Month. 

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“Crenshaw County Schools is proud to play a small part in bringing awareness to heart disease,” Hawthorne said. “As Superintendent, I’m proud to work with such a great group of people that take the initiative to bring awareness to such a terrible disease that impacts so many people.”

Although heart disease can be crippling for both males and females, women are more likely to have atypical symptoms, like shortness of breath or chest pressure, which is easier to ignore. According to the American Heart Association, the inside of the body doesn’t have as many nerves as the skin and symptoms of heart disease, especially in women, can be disguised as reflux or other issues. 

The American Heart Association reports that every minute someone is in cardiac arrest their survival rate drops by 10%. Brantley Rescue captain Syliva Odom-Davis said that if CPR isn’t being performed on a cardiac arrest victim when paramedics arrive, the chances of survival drop significantly.

“Early CPR definitely saves lives, and I would encourage everyone of all ages to learn the proper method for CPR,” Odom-Davis said. “It only takes four to six minutes for the brain to begin to die after cardiac arrest begins, but it could take up to 10 minutes for help to arrive depending on where you are. Any health care provider would be able to get you in touch with a CPR Instructor, and training only takes about two hours.”

Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States since 1950 and according to Dr. Charles Tompkins, Alabama is among the states with the highest incidence of heart disease. 

“Our bodies often send us warning signs of heart trouble,” Tompkins said. “These include chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness and loss of consciousness. If such symptoms develop, it is vitally important that you seek prompt medical attention because failure to do so may be fatal. The good news is that heart disease is largely preventable through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Don’t wait, your life may depend on it. And remember, a healthy heart makes for a happy life.”

According to Tompkins, being proactive is the best weapon against heart disease. Tompkins defined a heart-healthy lifestyle as one that involves maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity,maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, avoiding tobacco use, drinking alcohol only in moderation, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Tomkins added that regular check-ups with healthcare providers are crucial for monitoring and maintaining heart health.

For more information about heart disease and preventative measures, individuals can visit reputable sources such as the American Heart Association’s website at The American Heart Association offers a wealth of resources, including educational materials, tips on heart-healthy living, and information on recognizing the signs of heart-related issues.