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The NIH urges women to protect their heart health

February 1, 2012
KEYWORDS disease / health / heart / women
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heart healthThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) is using a fashion show to highlight the need for women to be proactive about reducing the risk of heart disease -- the leading cause of death for women.

As part of American Heart Month -- February -- the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI’s) The Heart Truth campaign, with the support of the NIH Foundation, 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.  

“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).   

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-Álvarez; 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.
 

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