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The NIH urges women to protect their heart health

As part of American Heart Month, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI's) The Heart Truth campaign, with the support of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), will showcase its signature event, the Red Dress Collection 2012 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. As part of its 10th anniversary this year, The Heart Truth has partnered with Million Hearts, a national initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.

"Although heart disease is still the leading cause of death for women, The Heart Truth and other campaigns have made great strides in raising women's awareness of heart disease and motivating them to find out their personal risk and take action to reduce it," said Susan B. Shurin, M.D., acting director of the NHLBI. "Women can greatly reduce their risk of heart disease by managing cholesterol levels, controlling blood pressure, not smoking, and adopting other healthy habits, such as eating well, being active, and keeping a healthy weight."

More women are finding out their personal risk for developing heart disease in 2009, 48 percent reported discussing heart disease with their doctor, up from 30 percent in 1997. Data also show that women who are aware that heart disease is their number one killer were 35 percent more likely to be physically active and 47 percent more likely to report losing excess weight than women who were unaware.

A new paper published in the Jan. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine adds to the substantial body of evidence that people can reduce their chances of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) through lifelong prevention and management of risk factors. In one of the largest-ever analyses of lifetime risks for CVD, NHLBI-supported researchers found that middle-aged adults who have one or more elevated traditional risk factors for CVD, such as high blood pressure, have a substantially greater chance of having a major CVD event, such as heart attack or stroke, during their remaining lifetime than people with optimal levels of risk factors. For example, women with at least two major risk factors were three times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease as women with none or one risk factor (20.5 percent vs. 6.4 percent).

During American Heart Month, The Heart Truth and its partners are hosting activities to celebrate a decade of progress and to continue to urge American women to take charge of their heart health.

National Wear Red Day: Friday, Feb. 3

As part of its milestone anniversary, The Heart Truth will celebrate the 10th National Wear Red Day, when Americans nationwide wear red to show their support for women's heart disease awareness. This year, the campaign is again encouraging women to take a photo of themselves or a group and share their heart health action online. For more information, visit The Heart Truth's Facebook page at

In addition, The Heart Truth will co-host a Twitter chat about heart health with Million Hearts and the American Heart Association from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. To join the conversation, follow @thehearttruth and look for the hashtag #heartchat.

Red Dress Collection Fashion Show: Wednesday, Feb. 8

The Heart Truth unveils the 10th Red Dress Collection at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Kicking off New York Fashion Week, the Red Dress Collection 2012 Fashion Show will feature more than 18 celebrities walking the runway in fashions created by some of America's top designers. During The Heart Truth's 10 years of partnership with the fashion industry, nearly 80 designers and 162 celebrities have participated in the annual Red Dress Collection Fashion Shows.

The Heart Truth brings the Red Dress Collection to life on the runway with the support of the FNIH. The Red Dress Collection 2012 Fashion Show is presented by Diet Coke with partners Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas.

"Diet Coke congratulates The Heart Truth on its 10th anniversary. The highly successful campaign has had our heartfelt support for the last five years, and we continue to be passionate about its mission to encourage women to be active and committed to educating themselves about heart health." said William White, group director of Coke North America.

Celebrity participants in this year's Red Dress Collection Fashion Show include: The Talk's Aisha Tyler; Cougar Town's Busy Philipps; Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Chaka Khan; Glamour's Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive; supermodel Christie Brinkley; Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps' mother, Debbie Phelps; television actress Elisabeth Rohm; host of the popular reality show Nuestra Belleza Latina Giselle Blondet; Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel; Discovery Familia's Jeannette Torres-lvarez; television and film actress Jenna Elfman; country music artist Jennifer Nettles; actress and disc jockey La La (Vazquez) Anthony; Dynasty's Golden Globe Award-winning actress Linda Evans; Entertainment Tonight anchor Nancy O'Dell; Bravo's The Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger; and actress and former fashion model Rebecca Romijn.*

Participating designers include: Alberta Ferretti, Badgley Mischka, Chris March, Marc Bouwer, Marchesa, Carmen Mark Valvo, Michael Kors, and Oscar de la Renta.

Panel Discussion on Women and Heart Disease: Wednesday, Feb. 8

To highlight the progress made and reflect on the challenging issues still facing the women's heart health movement, the NHLBI and The Heart Truth campaign are partnering with the Mayo Clinic and WomenHeart to conduct a special panel discussion for the media, In the Prime of her Life: an Update on Women and Cardiovascular Disease, at the Setai Fifth Avenue in New York City. Panel speakers include Nakela Cook, M.D., M.P.H, of the NHLBI and Sharonne Hayes, M.D., director of the Women's Heart Clinic at Mayo Clinic and associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. The panel topics include:

  • Deadly misperceptions about young women and heart disease
  • Obesity-heart disease connection
  • Heart health tips for high-risk pregnant women

Community Action Grants

For the fifth year, the FNIH will award grants to help communities mobilize efforts to increase heart disease awareness and foster healthy behavior change, especially in African-American women, low-income women, and women who live in rural areas. This year, six grants will be awarded. Recipients are listed below:

  • Northeast District Department of Health, Brooklyn, Conn.
  • St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Inc., Edgewood, Ky.
  • North Country Health Consortium, Littleton, N.H.
  • Dallas County Health Department, Buffalo, Mo.
  • Refugee Women's Alliance, Seattle, Wash.
  • Divas, Making Our People Healthier (MPH), College Park, Md.

To date, 31 grants have been awarded by the FNIH as part of a public-private partnership with the NHLBI in support of The Heart Truth. Funding is provided by the FNIH and partners of The Heart Truth.

The Heart Truth contributes to progress toward the heart disease and stroke objectives and targets that are set forth in Healthy People 2020, the nation's health promotion and disease prevention objectives for the decade.

Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

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