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Video: New Survey Finds 97 Percent of Women Understand Weight Increases Heart Disease Risk - The Leading Cause of Female Death in the United States - Yet 55 Percent Remain Overweight

Actress Caitlin Van Zandt Joins Health Education Campaign to Share Her Weight-Loss Journey and Inspire Other Women to Live Heart Healthy

WASHINGTON, May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Until last year, actress Caitlin Van Zandt of "Guiding Light" and "The Sopranos" was one of the 35 million obese women in the United States,(1) causing her to also be one of the 41 million women in this country living with or at risk of heart disease.(2) Caitlin was at risk of developing heart disease because she was significantly overweight and had high cholesterol - and she was merely 22 years old. Although Caitlin understood her weight was a concern, she was surprised to learn just how much it could negatively impact her health. And Caitlin is not alone.

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A recent survey of approximately 1,000 women revealed 97 percent understand being overweight is a significant risk factor for heart disease and losing weight can significantly reduce that risk. Yet, based on self-reported height and weight, 55 percent are overweight, and as such may be at risk for heart disease. So, while women understand their risk of heart disease, many are not taking action to live heart healthy and reduce their risk via weight loss. This may be in part because women do not adequately fear heart disease, which every year kills more women in the United States than any other disease.(3) In fact, the survey found that nearly three times as many women fear getting cancer as fear developing heart disease, 61 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Of the risk factors for heart disease, being significantly overweight has been shown to put a person at higher risk of early heart attack than any other risk factor.(4) In fact, overweight people experience heart attacks a decade sooner than "normal" weight people,(4) and significantly overweight women with diabetes have a nearly 80 percent chance of developing heart disease.(5) Because obesity can lead to heart disease and other serious conditions, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, second only to smoking.(6)

Once Caitlin understood her weight put her at risk for heart disease, she also feared for her mother, Barbara. Barbara was more than 100 pounds overweight, and she was on medication for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Scared for each other's health, Caitlin and Barbara shared a heartfelt moment, making the decision to live heart healthy and reduce their heart disease risk by losing weight. During the past year, Caitlin has lost 92 pounds and her cholesterol levels do not require medication, a treatment her physician was considering before she lost the weight. Similarly, Barbara has lost 75 pounds and her cholesterol and blood pressure are under control.

An astonishing 80 percent of women ages 40 to 60 have one or more risk factors, such as excess weight, for heart disease,(7) and almost 70 percent of women ages 45 to 74 are overweight or obese.(8) These staggering facts are just some of the many reasons why Caitlin and Barbara are sharing their stories as part of the Heartfelt Moments Obesity Health Education Campaign. The campaign aims to educate significantly overweight women regarding their increased risk of heart disease and the importance of reducing this risk through effective weight loss. The campaign is sponsored by Allergan, Inc., developers of the LAP-BAND AP(R) Adjustable Gastric Banding System, and is initiated in partnership with WomenHeart, a leading nonprofit national organization dedicated to advancing women's heart health.

"It is imperative that women know the risk factors for heart disease, which in addition to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking includes being significantly overweight or obese," said Lisa M. Tate, Chief Executive Officer of WomenHeart. "However, awareness regarding risk factors isn't enough; women need to act now to manage their heart disease risk. In fact, since more than 80 percent of heart disease can be prevented, taking action can make a big difference. And since weight management is a key way to reduce heart disease risk, significantly overweight women should speak with a doctor about effective weight-loss treatment options."

Significantly overweight people often face serious health issues beyond just heart disease, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.(9) However, there is hope; medical research has found that weight loss will help lower blood sugar and blood pressure, and improve lipid levels, all known risk factors for heart disease.(10)

After years of unsuccessful diet and exercise programs, Caitlin and Barbara lost weight with the assistance of the LAP-BAND AP(R) Adjustable Gastric Banding System procedure, which is less invasive and has a lower short-term mortality rate than gastric bypass.(11) Achieving long-term weight loss can be daunting, particularly for those who are 100 pounds or more overweight. Studies have found that diet and exercise alone fail 95 percent of the time, and people regain as much as two-thirds of the weight within one year and almost all of it within five years.(12,13) The new survey showed just how poorly this reality is understood, as 54 percent of obese women surveyed noted diet and exercise as an effective weight-loss method for those 100 pounds overweight.

For Caitlin and Barbara, the weight-loss journey began with a heartfelt moment when they both acknowledged the effect weight was having on their heart health and made a commitment to lose weight together. Unfortunately, many women miss out on the power of this heart-to-heart conversation - the survey found that four out of 10 women do not discuss heart disease risk with their loved ones. But candid conversations can be welcome, as evidenced by the survey, which found that 79 percent of obese women would react positively if a friend or family member spoke to them about their weight.

"This Mother's Day, look at the women in your life - your mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister - and look at yourself. If any of you are significantly overweight, heart disease should be a major health concern. Now is the time to act - have that heartfelt moment and discuss weight as a risk factor for heart disease and what you can do to get your weight under control," said Caitlin, "I want women who are 100 pounds or more overweight to know that there are effective weight-loss treatment options, beyond just diet and exercise, and with the right tools and plan, and support of loved ones, you can take the weight off and live heart healthy."

About the Campaign

The Heartfelt Moments Obesity Health Education Campaign provides access to information, resources and tools available on, including:

  • Online risk assessment tools women can use to evaluate their own risk of developing heart disease and understand if their weight is putting their health at risk.
  • Tips and resources to help women have a meaningful conversation about weight and heart disease risk, including a "Heartfelt Moments" discussion guide and sample letters to loved ones.
  • Information on effective weight-loss treatment options, such as the LAP-BAND AP(R) System.

About the Survey

WomenHeart and Allergan surveyed 1,001 women regarding their knowledge of heart disease and obesity. The survey was fielded via telephone from March 26-30, 2009 by Yankelovich, a leading consumer research company. Completed interviews are weighted by four variables: age, gender, geographic region and race, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. adult population. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

About WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease

WomenHeart is the only national, patient-centered organization dedicated to advancing women's heart health through advocacy, community education and patient support. As the leading voice for the 41 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease, WomenHeart advocates for equal access to quality care and provides information and resources to help women take charge of their heart health. WomenHeart is a nonprofit patient advocacy organization. To learn more about WomenHeart, visit the Web site at

About the LAP-BAND(R) System

The LAP-BAND(R) Adjustable Gastric Banding System is the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved adjustable gastric band for use in weight reduction. Used in more than 450,000 procedures worldwide, this reversible surgically implanted device has safely helped severely obese adults successfully achieve and maintain long-term weight loss. The LAP-BAND(R) System is approved for use with severely obese adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more or for adults with a BMI of at least 35 plus at least one severe obesity-related health condition, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and asthma. The LAP-BAND AP(R) System, launched in 2007, is the latest addition of the LAP-BAND(R) System family. The LAP-BAND AP(R) System incorporates the proprietary 360-degree OMNIFORM(R) technology (soft, pre-curved individual sections) and offers reliability based on advanced technology and proven performance.


Indications: The LAP-BAND(R) Adjustable Gastric Banding System is indicated for use in weight reduction for severely obese patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40 or a BMI of at least 35 with one or more severe comorbid conditions, or those who are 100 lbs. or more over their estimated ideal weight. The LAP-BAND(R) System is indicated for use only in severely obese adult patients who have failed more conservative weight-reduction alternatives, such as supervised diet, exercise, and behavior modification programs. Patients who elect to have this surgery must make the commitment to accept significant changes in their eating habits for the rest of their lives.

Contraindications: The LAP-BAND(R) System is not recommended for non-adult patients, patients with conditions that may make them poor surgical candidates or increase the risk of poor results, (e.g., inflammatory or cardiopulmonary diseases, GI conditions, symptoms or family history of autoimmune disease, cirrhosis), who are unwilling or unable to comply with the required dietary restrictions, who have alcohol or drug addictions, or who currently are or may be pregnant.

Warnings: The LAP-BAND(R) System is a long-term implant. Explant and replacement surgery may be required at some time. Patients who become pregnant or severely ill, or who require more extensive nutrition may require deflation of their bands. Patients should not expect to lose weight as fast as gastric bypass patients, and band inflation should proceed in small increments. Anti-inflammatory agents, such as aspirin, should be used with caution and may contribute to an increased risk of band erosion.

Adverse Events: Placement of the LAP-BAND(R) System is major surgery and, as with any surgery, death can occur. Possible complications include the risks associated with the medications and methods used during surgery, the risks associated with any surgical procedure, and the patient's ability to tolerate a foreign object implanted in the body.

Band slippage, erosion and deflation, reflux, obstruction of the stomach, dilation of the esophagus, infection, or nausea and vomiting may occur. Reoperation may be required.

Rapid weight loss may result in malnutrition, anemia, or other complications that may require additional surgery. Deflation of the band may alleviate excessively rapid weight loss or esophageal dilation.

Important: For full safety information please visit or call Allergan Product Support at 1-800-624-4261.

CAUTION: This device is restricted to sale by or on the order of a physician.

(C) 2009 Allergan, Inc. Irvine, CA 92612. (R) marks owned by Allergan, Inc. All rights reserved.

    (1) Weight-Control Information Network (NIH). Statistics related to
        overweight and obesity. Available at Accessed 4/8/09.
    (2) American Heart Association (AHA). 2009 Heart Disease and Stroke
        Statistics Update. Circulation. January 27, 2009; 2176.
    (3) The American Heart Association. Heart Disease Education, Analysis and
        Research, and Treatment for Women Act. Available at
        Accessed 2/17/09.
    (4) Madala MC, Franklin BA, Chen AY, Berman AD, Roe MT, Peterson ED, Ohman
        EM, Smith SC, Gibler WB, McCullough PA. Obesity and Age of First Non-
        ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction J. Am. Coll. Cardiol.,
        September 16, 2008; 52: 979 - 985.
    (5) Fox CS, Pencina MJ, Wilson PWF, Paynter NP, Vasan RS, D'Agostino RB.
        Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Individuals With and
        Without Diabetes Stratified by Obesity Status in the Framingham Heart
        Study. Diabetes Care. 2008 31:1582-1584.
    (6) American Obesity Association. AOA Fact Sheets. Health effects of
        obesity. Available at Accessed
    (7) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Lower Heart Disease Risk.
        Available at:
        risk/risk-factors.htm. Accessed 3/5/09.
    (8) Center for Disease Control (CDC). Health, United States, 2008. Table
        75: Overweight, obesity, and healthy weight among persons 20 years of
        age and over, by selected characteristics: United States, 1960-1962
        through 2003-2006. Available at: Accessed 4/17/09.
    (9) American Obesity Association. AOA Fact Sheets. Available at Accessed
    (10)National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Heart Lung and Blood
        Institute (NHLBI). Clinical guidelines on the identification,
        evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: The
        evidence report. NIH Publication no. 98-4083, September 1998.
    (11)O'Brien PE, Dixon JB. Lap-Band(R): Outcomes and results. J Laparoendosc
        Adv Surg Tech A. 2003; 13:265-270.
    (12)Atkinson R, Hubbard V. Report on the NIH Workshop on Pharmacologic
        Treatment of Obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994; 60: 153-6.
    (13)NIH Technology Assessment Conference Panel. Methods for voluntary
        weight loss and control. Ann Intern Med 1993; 119 (7pt 2):764.

SOURCE Allergan, Inc.
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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