On 10th annual celebration, The American Heart Association’s “Go Red For Women” Day encourages women’s health; Virginia researcher finds veterans are committing suicide more frequently; and does Twitter effectively track flu incidence? These stories and more top public health news on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.

Huffington PostNancy Brown: Go red and take control of your heart health
The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement is about taking action. Since we launched Go Red 10 years ago, we have shared a very clear and unwavering message with women: Be proactive. Take control of your heart health. If you don’t, no one else will do it for you. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Women who join Go Red are far more likely to make healthy choices. In fact, 90 percent have made at least one healthy behavior change.

Boston GlobeResearchers turn to Twitter to track the flu
Flu sufferers are turning out in droves to post about their illness on Twitter, and researchers are using the tweets to gather data on how the illness is increasing or ebbing state to state in the US. “This new work demonstrates that Twitter posts can be used to guide public health officials in their response to outbreaks of infectious diseases,” says Mark Dredze, an assistant research professor in the department of computer science at Johns Hopkins. “Our hope is that the new technology can be used to track other diseases as well.” “When you look at Twitter posts, you can see people talking about being afraid of catching the flu or asking friends if they should get a flu shot or mentioning a public figure who seems to be ill,” adds Dredze. “But posts like this don’t measure how many people have actually contracted the flu. We wanted to separate hype about the flu from messages from people who truly become ill.”

Washington PostVA study finds more veterans committing suicide
Every day about 22 veterans in the United States kill themselves, a rate that is about 20 percent higher than the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 2007 estimate, according to a two-year study by a VA researcher. The VA study indicates that more than two-thirds of the veterans who commit suicide are 50 or older, suggesting that the increase in veterans’ suicides is not primarily driven by those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “There is a perception that we have a veterans’ suicide epidemic on our hands. I don’t think that is true,” said Robert Bossarte, an epidemiologist with the VA who did the study.

Kaiser Health NewsPost-Sandy, NYU Langone has reopened, but can it regain market share?
From the time C.J. Wise found out she was pregnant with her son Finn, she’d been seeing an obstetrician who practiced at NYU Langone Medical Center. She was excited to deliver at the hospital, considered one of the best places for mothers and babies in New York City. When Hurricane Sandy hit, and NYU was evacuated and then closed, Wise says she was “very, very upset.” “There’s enough uncertainty about when in that five-week period you’re going to go into labor: Am I going to get to the hospital? Is the labor going to be long? How painful it will be?” she explains. “You don’t want to think about where it’s going to happen.” With NYU closed, Wise’s doctor was given temporary privileges to deliver at Beth Israel Medical Center. Wise was nervous, but to her great surprise, she loved it.