Dancing to Heart Health

Dancing to Heart Health

Though heart problems stand as the No. 1 killer of American women over the age of 20, little more than half of U.S. women surveyed actually realized their risk.

With half a million women losing their lives to the disease every year, Case Western Reserve alumnus Joshua Max Davis found a fun way to help spread the message: a nationwide dance party.

“Women are badly undertreated for heart disease,” he says. “The media has focused on men’s symptoms, like chest pains. But heart disease presents differently in women, so they often don’t seek treatment.”

Davis earned his MBA at Case Western Reserve University in 2001 and is president of the Spirit of Women Health Network, an organization that helps hospitals better care for women. The network focuses on a range of medical conditions and offers activities that engage individuals as active participants in wellness through entertainment—what he calls health-u-tainment.

One such event is the annual Day of Dance for Health, which launched in 2004, aiming to encourage women to dance for exercise. The event also offers basic information and teaches women the signs and symptoms of heart attacks, which can be subtle and include back pain, nausea and fatigue.

This year, Day of Dance had more than 70,000 participants in 80 cities across the country tapping their toes—from the merengue in Miami to the two-step in Texas.

“The program is fun and it really works,” Davis says. “Women are talking to their friends and family about what they learned—and they are going to the doctor.”