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The NHLBI Hosts Red Dress Collection 2005 Fashion Show on National Wear Red Day

New Survey Finds Red Dress Symbol Prompts Women to Take Action to Care for Their Hearts

For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2005

New York, NY--The Heart Truth, a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), will host the Red Dress Collection 2005 Fashion Show today at Olympus Fashion Week in New York City on National Wear Red Day. With 26 of America's most influential designers and a star-studded cast of celebrity models, including Vanessa Williams and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, the fashion show brings to life the Red Dress, the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness.

Made possible by Johnson & Johnson, Celestial Seasonings, and Swarovski, the fashion show is hosted by actress Vanessa Williams and will be held at 2 p.m. on February 4, under "The Tent" at Bryant Park's Olympus Fashion Week.

"We welcome the powerful support from the fashion and entertainment industries--as well as individual celebrities from the arts, theater, and sports--in advancing the fight against heart disease among women and sharing The Heart Truth with millions of American women," says NHLBI Director Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D. "The debut of the Red Dress Collection 2005 delivers an urgent reminder for women to care for their hearts and to take action against heart disease, still the number one killer of women."

Two years after the launch of the Red Dress symbol by NHLBI, part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a new national survey shows that more women are taking action to reduce their risk of heart disease. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive in January 2005. It found that 60 percent of all the women surveyed agree that the Red Dress makes them want to learn more about heart disease. Twenty-five percent of women recalled the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness and 45 percent agreed that it would prompt them to talk to their doctor and/or get a check-up. The survey was commissioned by WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease--a founding partner of The Heart Truth.

The Red Dress Collection 2005 Fashion Show features red dresses created exclusively for The Heart Truth to warn women of their number one health threat. Modeling these one-of-a-kind designs are some of the world's most recognized stars including Sheryl Crow, Venus Williams, Christie Brinkley, Paula Abdul, Debi Mazar, Rachel Hunter, and Elettra Rossellini, among others.

"I participated in this outstanding event last year, and am thrilled to serve as host, as well as walk in the show this year, because The Heart Truth is that heart disease is the number one killer of women in America," says Vanessa Williams. "Tragically, heart disease is also the number one killer in my family. I am committed to helping women everywhere learn more about how to reduce their risk."

Participating designers in the 2005 Collection include: Alia Khan, Baby Phat, Badgley Mischka, Betsey Johnson, Calvin Klein, Carmen Marc Valvo, Carolina Herrera, Catherine Malandrino, Cynthia Rowley, Cynthia Steffe, Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Esteban Cortazar, Kenneth Cole, Luca Luca, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Narciso Rodriguez, Nicole Miller, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Richard Tyler, Shannon Stokes, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, and Zac Posen.

"The fashion industry is proud and honored to be part of this groundbreaking effort to alert women about the dangers of heart disease and to have helped launch The Heart Truth's Red Dress symbol here at Fashion Week in 2003," says Fern Mallis, executive director, IMG/7th on Sixth. "In just two short years, the Red Dress has exploded and caught on in pop culture and has become the quintessential icon for women's heart health. We celebrate the success of the Red Dress and are committed to increasing awareness among women to help them live longer, healthier lives."

Since 1984, heart disease has killed more women than men; however, awareness levels of this important health issue among women had remained low for decades. NHLBI launched The Heart Truth to raise awareness of women and heart disease.

"The Heart Truth's education efforts, including the efforts of our many partners, are making a difference," says Nabel. According to a new American Heart Association survey, awareness of heart disease as women's number one killer is at an all time high, with awareness increasing from 34 percent to 57 percent in the last four years.

While awareness levels have risen, most women still fail to make the connection between risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and their personal risk of developing heart disease. In the American Heart Association survey, only 20 percent of women identify heart disease as the greatest health problem facing women today, and awareness levels of heart disease as the leading killer of women are lower among African American and Hispanic women.

"It is vitally important for women to talk to their doctors about personal risks for heart disease and to take the steps needed to lead a heart healthy life," says Nabel. "The good news is that heart disease is preventable. Just by leading a healthy lifestyle--such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating right--Americans can lower their risk by as much as 82 percent."

Heart disease risk factors include those that are beyond women's control and those that can be changed. Those that cannot be changed are a family history of early heart disease and age. The risk factors that can be controlled are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, and diabetes. While having even one risk factor is dangerous, having multiple risk factors is especially serious, because risk factors tend to "gang up" and worsen each other's effects.

The Heart Truth is a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in partnership with: Office on Women's Health, DHHS; American Heart Association; WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease; and other organizations committed to the health and well-being of women.

WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is the nation's only patient advocacy organization representing the 8,000,000 American women living with heart disease. WomenHeart's mission is to improve their quality of life and quality of health care, to include early detection, accurate diagnosis, and proper treatment.

The Red Dress Collection 2005 Fashion Show is made possible with the support of members of the fashion and entertainment industries and IMG/7th on Sixth (Producers of Olympus Fashion Week).

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