Since 2002, the Red Dress has been the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness through a national campaign, The Heart Truth. Sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and partner organizations, The Heart Truth includes the annual Red Dress Collection Fashion Show in New York City. The campaign was created to spread the message that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women. In fact, one in four women dies of heart disease.
"Many women do not make the connection between risk factors for heart disease—and their personal risk for developing it," says Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D. director of NHLBI. "Fortunately, we have made major progress in increasing awareness among women."
In 2000, only 34 percent of women knew the risk factors for heart disease. That number went up to 62 percent in 2008.
The Heart Truth campaign aims to increase awareness even more. National Wear Red Day, held on Friday, February 6, 2009, unites Americans across the country in the fight against heart disease. The Red Dress pin is another way to remind women of their risk. It is available online at www.hearttruth.gov.
A highlight of American Heart Month is The Heart Truth's annual Fashion Week Red Dress Collection Fashion Show. The show features celebrities and designers who help spread the message to women about heart disease. Participants in the 2008 show included Allison Janney for Donna Karan, Ana Ortiz for Badgley Mischka, Ashanti for Tracy Reese, Camryn Manheim for Ali Rahimi, Heidi Klum for Marc Jacobs, and Rita Moreno for Lily Samii.
"The Red Dress Collection Show is our way of helping to spread the word about the importance for women to understand heart disease," says actress Ana Ortiz, one of the stars of the hit television comedy, Ugly Betty. "Everyone is touched in some way by heart disease, and we have to work together to help fight this epidemic among Americans—both women and men."