heart healthDuring February -- American Heart Month -- the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is conducting The Heart Truth campaign to bring to light the stories of women who are actively protecting their hearts and inspiring others to do the same.

The NHLBI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

"Over the past 11 years, The Heart Truth campaign has raised awareness that heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States. Closing the gap between awareness and prevention of heart disease remains a critical public health imperative, and with the information, tools, and support offered by The Heart Truth, women have tremendous power to create change,” said Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of the NHLBI.

More women are finding out their personal risk for developing heart disease. In a 2009 American Heart Association survey, 48 percent reported discussing heart disease with their doctor, up from 30 percent in 1997. Women can significantly 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.

This year, the campaign focuses on the importance of women talking with each other and sharing their stories in the fight against heart disease.

"Informed women who have recognized the benefits of positive changes in their lives have the power to inspire, encourage, and motivate others to make healthy changes," said Nakela Cook, M.D., medical officer at the NHLBI. 

The Heart Truth and its partners will host events during American Heart Month to showcase women’s personal heart disease prevention journeys and help motivate all women to take healthy lifestyle actions that lower their risk for heart disease. 

The Heart Truth is partnering with Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). African-American women have higher rates of some risk factors for heart disease and therefore are at higher risk for heart disease. African-American women are also more likely to die of heart disease, and at younger ages, than white women.

The Heart Truth also encourages women across the country to join its Rally to Wear Red on Facebook by sharing photos of themselves wearing red and by posting their heart-healthy success stories. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/hearttruth.

On Feb. 14th, the ACC is offering free heart health screenings and educational programs through its CardioSmart iniatives. For more information on the location and timing of the screenings, visit http://www.cardiosmart.org .

Those unable to attend the screenings can visit http://www.healthcare.gov/prevetion to learn more about risk factor screenings to help them assess their heart disease risk.

To learn more, visit http://www.hearttruth.gov