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Stars Strut in Red to Bring Awareness to Women's Heart Health
Date:2/7/2013

cognize the red dress as a national symbol for heart disease, and two-thirds say it actually makes them want to learn more," said Dr. Nakela Cook, a medical officer with the clinical applications and prevention branch in the division of cardiovascular sciences at the NHLBI in Bethesda, Md.

"In fact, we know that awareness among women has actually doubled over the past 12 years," she said. "An American Heart Association survey from 2009 showed that 48 percent of women have now discussed the issue with their physician, which is up from just 30 percent back in 1997. "

According to Cook, increased awareness often brings heart-healthy changes in women's lives. She said that when women understand the full threat of heart disease, they are 35 percent more likely to exercise and 47 percent more likely to report that they've lost excess weight, compared to women who are less aware.

Efforts such as The Heart Truth, and events such as last Friday's "National Wear Red Day" may even be saving lives, Cook noted.

"We have seen a steady decline in the number of heart disease deaths among women in the decade since 1999," she said. "So, we're making progress. But we still have a road ahead of us to improve these numbers, and to get women with a personal connection to heart disease to share their stories so that women understand that we're all in this together."

The Red Dress Collection, supported by Diet Coke and WebMD, featured a bevy of other celebrities, including actress Minka Kelly and talk show host Wendy Williams, all wearing dresses from star designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Reem Acra and Zac Posen, among others.

For the first time in its 10-year history, the show also featured a non-celebrity on the catwalk -- Cindy Parsons, a woman chosen by the show's organizers for her own success at reducing her personal risk factors for heart disease.

"My mother died of heart disease just two years ago," Parsons, a 55-year old from Brooklyn
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