News Release

Friday, February 1, 2008

Heart Disease Deaths Continue to Decline in American Women

On National Wear Red Day, Heart Truth campaign continues to raise awareness

New York — Heart disease deaths in American women continued to decline in 2005, and for the first time, have declined six years consecutively, covering the years 2000-2005, according to newly analyzed data announced today by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.

NHLBI experts analyzed preliminary data for 2005, the most recent year for which data are available. The analysis shows that women are living longer and healthier lives, and dying of heart disease at much later ages than in the past years.

In New York City today, The Heart Truth — NHLBI's landmark heart health awareness campaign for women — rolls out the red carpet for its Red Dress Collection 2008 Fashion Show — presented by Diet Coke, with national sponsors Johnson & Johnson, Swarovski, and partner Bobbi Brown Cosmetics — at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. More than 20 celebrated women will unite with America's top designers on the runway to showcase the annual collection of one-of-a-kind Red Dresses and raise awareness of heart disease in women.

"Nothing draws attention like a little red dress, so this is the Heart Truth's symbol," said First Lady Laura Bush, official national ambassador of the Heart Truth campaign. "Across the country, people are rallying around that dress. Women are taking heart disease more seriously. So are their doctors. And every year from 2000 to 2005, heart disease deaths among women decreased. "

"This is good progress," Mrs. Bush added. "But we still want more people to know the Heart Truth. Too many women, especially African American women, die of heart disease. More than 80 percent of middle-aged women have at least one risk factor and many of them don't know it."

"Considerable progress continues to be made in the fight against heart disease in women," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., director of NHLBI.

But serious challenges remain — one in four women dies from heart disease. Women of color have higher rates of some risk factors for heart disease and are more likely to die of the disease.

"Unfortunately, many women still do not take heart disease seriously and personally," said Dr. Nabel. "Millions of women still have one or more risk factors for heart disease, dramatically increasing their risk of developing heart disease. In fact, having just one risk factor increases a woman's chance of developing heart disease twofold."

"I am just delighted that for the sixth year on National Wear Red Day, the fashion and entertainment industries will join forces on behalf of The Heart Truth to share an urgent message to American women about heart health," said Dr. Nabel. "Although we've helped to dramatically increase awareness among women that heart disease is their leading cause of death, our mission remains to educate women about the seriousness of heart disease and inspire them to take action to reduce their risk."

The Heart Truth effort aims to spread the word that heart disease is largely preventable. In fact, just by leading a healthy lifestyle — such as following a heart healthy eating plan, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking — Americans can lower their risk by as much as 82 percent. Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • age (55 or older for women);
  • a family history of early heart disease;
  • high blood pressure;
  • high blood cholesterol;
  • diabetes;
  • smoking;
  • being overweight or obese; and
  • being physically inactive.

NHLBI's introduction of The Heart Truth's Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002 sparked a national movement that has united partners to promote the common goal of a greater awareness of heart disease and better heart health for all women. The Red Dress is fast becoming one of the most recognizable health symbols in the United States. About half of women recognize the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease and about half of women are aware that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.

Walking in this year's Fashion Show are Hollywood leading ladies, including Allison Janney, Ana Ortiz, Camryn Manheim, Cheryl Hines, Cicely Tyson, Emma Roberts, Heidi Klum, Jenna Fischer, Joss Stone, Leighton Meester, Lisa Rinna, Maria Menounos, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Molly Sims, Rita Moreno, and Sara Ramirez.

Participating designers in the 2008 Collection include Ali Rahimi, Badgley Mischka, Calvin Klein, Carmen Marc Valvo, Catherine Malandrino, Daniel Swarovski, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, Michael Kors, Monique L'Huillier, Oscar de la Renta, Rachel Roy, Ralph Lauren, Tracy Reese, and Zac Posen.

Friday, Feb. 1, 2008, is National Wear Red Day when thousands of Americans across the country will wear red to unite in the national movement to give women a personal and urgent reminder about their risk for heart disease. The day serves as a reminder to every woman to care for her heart, because heart disease is the #1 killer of women.

About The Heart Truth
The Heart Truth is a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease sponsored by NHLBI, part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Heart Truth's Red Dress reminds women of the need to protect their heart health, and inspires them to take action. NHLBI continues to lead the nation in a landmark heart health awareness movement that is being embraced by millions who share the common goal of greater awareness and better heart health for all women.

The Heart Truth partners include: The Office on Women's Health, Department of Health and Human Services; the American Heart Association; WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, and other organizations committed to the health and well-being of women. To learn more about The Heart Truth campaign, visit

For additional media information, visit For downloadable images and photography, please visit or or email your inquiry to

Please Note: Participants in The Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection 2008 Fashion Show were confirmed at time of release and are subject to change.

Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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