About the Heart Truth®

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) created The Heart Truth® in 2002. It is the first federally-sponsored national health education program designed to raise awareness about heart disease as the leading cause of death in women. In 2003, NHLBI introduced the Red Dress® as the national symbol for women and heart disease to bring greater visibility to risk factors and educate and motivate women to take action to protect their hearts. Initially, the program targeted women ages 40-60 with a special focus on women of color. Over the last two decades, awareness about heart disease has increased, but heart disease remains the leading cause of death for all Americans and disproportionately affects certain populations.

Building on decades of increased awareness among women ages 40-60, recent efforts by The Heart Truth have expanded to include younger women and populations more vulnerable to heart disease such as African Americans and other minorities.

The Heart Truth stresses that the truth is there’s something we can do at every stage of life to reduce the risk of heart disease. Our outreach and education efforts aim to increase awareness about risk factors for heart disease; help people identify specific health goals to control risk factors; increase self-efficacy to prevent heart disease; and increase the number of Americans who intend to take action to protect their hearts and control modifiable risk factors with a focus on:

  • Healthy eating
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Getting quality sleep
  • Not smoking
  • Reducing stress

The Heart Truth established its Healthy Hearts Network, a partnership network of national organizations with local affiliates, state and federal agencies, and academic, civic and nonprofit institutions with a demonstrated interest in heart health, to expand its reach into local communities and collaborate with health and community professionals on heart health education initiatives.   

We provide free, science-based educational materials and information about heart-healthy living, coordinate American Heart Month, and support National Wear Red Day, and more. If you have questions about the program or would like to get involved in the Healthy Hearts Network, email us at HealthEdu@nhlbi.nih.gov


Special Initiatives

The Red Dress

heart truth logo

The Red Dress was introduced by NHLBI and The Heart Truth as the national symbol for women and heart disease. It was designed to emphasize that heart disease is not a “man's disease,” and was originally pared with tag line, “Heart Disease Doesn't Care What You Wear – It's the #1 Killer of Women.” The Red Dress is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.



Red Dress Collection®

red dress collection group shot.

Founded by The Heart Truth, the Red Dress Collection® fashion show is an annual event that occurs in New York City during New York Fashion Week in February. The Heart Truth partnered with the fashion industry to kick off this signature event in 2003 with the purpose of integrating public-private relationships to expand awareness of heart disease and to further the reach of messages about risk reduction and prevention. Top designers create red dresses worn on the runway by well-known women of many ages, ethnicities, and walks of life. Starting in 2014, the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign began executing this event in collaboration with The Heart Truth.


National Wear Red Day®

Woman smiling and wearing red, holding a heart symbol

NHLBI, HHS, HHS Office on Women’s Health, and many other groups around the country annually celebrate National Wear Red Day® on the first Friday in February to raise awareness about heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S. and to educate women about the fact that heart disease is the #1 killer in women and it is largely preventable. There are many ways for you to get involved in promoting National Wear Red Day.



American Heart Month 

Middle aged couple wearing red and making a heart sign

Each February, NHLBI and The Heart Truth celebrate American Heart Month by motivating Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease. Join our efforts in promoting heart health and find educational resources use in February and year round here.