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Women and Heart Disease

Sharing Advice From The Heart

This year's Red Dress Collection® was hosted by The American Heart Association's Go Red for Women® and supported by the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and Macy's. This widely publicized event took place on February 11, 2016, and kicked off New York Fashion Week. More than 20 celebrities walked the runway in red gowns in an effort to raise awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. The NIH/NHLBI supported this event by providing evidence-based scientific messaging to special guests, more than 100 media outlets, and the public.

Ta'Rhonda Jones, star of Fox TV's Empire, delivers a healthy message about women and heart disease.

What inspired you to get involved in the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women movement and Red Dress Collection?

For me, heart disease is personal, so when the American Heart Association (AHA) approached me and asked me to participate in the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection and wear up-and-coming Macy's Incubator designer Conrad Booker, of course I said yes. I want to bring awareness to the fact that heart disease impacts women, and African-American women, in a very real way. The AHA says that nearly 50 percent of African-American women have cardiovascular disease, but only 14 percent believe it's their greatest health threat. That's a problem.

You have had personal experience with a heart condition starting as a child. Can you tell us a little about that?

I was born with a heart murmur, and for the first few months after birth I had to wear a heart monitor. I was told that I wasn't going to be able to participate in a lot of activities because of my condition. But as I got older I became more active. I played softball, basketball, volleyball, and ran track! I think being involved in all these different activities helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Ta'Rhonda Jones is an actress and recording artist best known for her scene-stealing role as Porsha Taylor on Fox TV's Empire and as a TV personality on many other programs. Under her music alias, Lady Heroine, she is currently in the studio recording tracks for her upcoming album. She is part of this year's Go Red For Women movement and discussed with NIH MedlinePlus magazine why she got involved.

Photo: Getty Images for AHA

And your mother has a heart condition as well. Is this something she developed as an adult?

My mother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure three years ago. Both she and her doctor are currently determining the best course of treatment so that she can live a better, healthier lifestyle.

What message do you have for women, especially young women, about heart health and taking care of themselves?

I want women to know that you can lead a successful and productive life with heart disease, but as women, we have to make our health our priority. Women, especially young women, can do that simply by scheduling a well-woman visit with their doctor. It's never too early to have your heart checked, especially if heart disease runs in your family. A well-woman visit is a doctor's appointment where you can learn about the risks for heart disease and stroke and that visit could save your life.

The Heart Truth

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) sponsors The Heart Truth® education program in partnership with many national and community organizations.

The program's goal is to raise awareness about heart disease and its risk factors among women and educate and motivate them to take action to prevent the disease and control its risk factors. The program tells women that "The Heart Truth starts with you. Talk with your doctor, find out your risk for heart disease, and take action today to lower it." The Heart Truth's messages are highlighted by the moving stories of women who are taking action to have a heart-healthy lifestyle.

The centerpiece of The Heart Truth is the Red Dress®, which was introduced as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002 by the NHLBI. The Red Dress® reminds women of the need to protect their heart health and inspires them to take action to lower their risk for the disease.

To hear more stories and learn more about how to lower your risk for heart disease, visit The Heart Truth® is a registered trademark, and Red Dress is a service mark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Spring 2016 Issue: Volume 11 Number 1 Page 2