George W. Bush photo

Fact Sheet: The Heart Truth: Helping Prevent Heart Disease in Women

February 11, 2008

President And Mrs. Bush Participate In A Heart Truth Event To Help Raise Awareness That Heart Disease Is The Number One Killer Of Women

"Over the last five years, I've seen The Heart Truth campaign spread the word to women about how they can protect their heart health. ... Nothing draws attention like a little red dress, so this is The Heart Truth's symbol. Across the country, people are rallying around that dress. Women are taking heart disease more seriously. So are their doctors. And every year from 2000 to 2005, heart disease deaths among women decreased."

- Mrs. Laura Bush, 2/1/08

Today, President and Mrs. Bush hosted a Heart Truth reception at the White House to celebrate the fifth year of Mrs. Bush's service as ambassador to raise heart disease awareness. Among the President and Mrs. Bush's guests were heart disease survivor Candice Stauffer, fashion designers Mark Badgley, James Mischka, and Narciso Rodriguez, and journalist Natalie Morales. Eighty million Americans suffer from heart disease, which is the number one cause of death for American men and women. Even though women are more likely than men to die from this condition, many women are not aware of the risks associated with not taking preventive action.

  • For the past five years, Mrs. Bush has served as the ambassador for The Heart Truth campaign as part of her Women's Health and Wellness efforts. Through The Heart Truth campaign, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mrs. Bush has been leading the Federal government's effort to give women a personal and urgent wake-up call about their risk of heart disease. Mrs. Bush has talked to women across the country at the community hospital events featuring the experiences of women living with heart disease.
  • As part of her work as ambassador for The Heart Truth campaign, Mrs. Bush helped debut the Red Dress Project. This project shines a spotlight on the Red Dress - the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness - with support from America's fashion industry. On February 1, Mrs. Bush participated as The Heart Truth celebrated its sixth year at New York's Fashion Week, during which 15 celebrated women, including Heidi Klum, Ashanti, Liza Minnelli, Sara Ramirez, and Rita Moreno, modeled one-of-a-kind Red Dresses by America's top designers.

The Heart Truth Campaign Helps Women Realize It Is Never Too Late To Take Action To Prevent Heart Disease

The Heart Truth campaign is making women more aware of the dangers and risks of heart disease. The Heart Truth campaign offers a wide variety of resources to help individuals and local communities raise awareness, such as:

  • Educational materials for women to learn about heart disease and how to reduce their risks.
  • Compelling stories of real women telling how heart disease changed their lives.
  • National public service advertising.
  • Partnerships with national non-profit organizations reinforced at the local level to extend the campaign's reach and message, including African American and Hispanic organizations.
  • Corporate partnerships to expand the reach of The Heart Truth's campaign message.
  • Community programs, such as the Single City program, The Heart Truth Champions program, and The Heart Truth Road Show.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute introduced the Red Dress to remind women to take care of their hearts. A 2008 survey shows that five years after the NHLBI launched The Heart Truth campaign, about half of U.S. adult women recognize the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness.

Thanks in part to The Heart Truth campaign, more women are aware that heart disease is the number one cause of death among women. According to a 2008 survey, about half of American women know that heart disease is the leading killer of women, up from 34 percent in 2000. While this shows a remarkable increase in awareness, there is still work to be done. African American and Hispanic women, who are at higher risk of heart disease than white women, continue to have lower rates of awareness.

Fewer American women are dying of heart disease. The Heart Truth campaign is empowering American women to fight back against heart disease, which is often preventable. In 2003, one in three deaths among women was due to heart disease, but data for 2005 - the most recent year for which data are available - show the number dropped to one in four deaths. The yearly decrease in deaths from heart disease since 2000 amounts to 36,703 lives saved.

With Mrs. Bush's Leadership, The Heart Truth Has Helped Save Tens Of Thousands Of Women's Lives

Last year, as part of her work to tell The Heart Truth, Mrs. Bush appeared on The Rachel Ray Show to describe the symptoms of heart attacks in women. Candy Stauffer and her daughter Carrie Wright were watching the show, and a few weeks later when Candy woke up feeling nauseated and bothered by pain in the jaw, her daughter Carrie remembered what Mrs. Bush had said. Candy was then rushed to the hospital in time to be treated for a heart attack. Since her close call, Candy exercises every day, has lost weight, and is calling on others to take better care of their hearts.

Joyce Cullen joined the President this February for the signing of the Presidential Proclamation in honor of American Heart month. A few years ago, Mrs. Bush traveled to St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, to discuss the importance of being able to recognize heart disease symptoms, and Joyce Cullen watched the local coverage on television. Later, Joyce experienced some of the symptoms Mrs. Bush described and went to the hospital to discover she was having a heart attack. Joyce had surgery and is in good health today. She has since joined The Heart Truth campaign to teach women about the symptoms they may experience during a heart attack, and how they can prevent heart disease.

For the 2008 State of the Union address, Mrs. Bush invited Nurse Tara Kunkel to be a guest in her box. In July 2007, Nurse Kunkel admitted a woman in her 70s into the hospital who was complaining of a heart attack. The woman told Nurse Kunkel she went to the nearest hospital because she had just read an interview with Mrs. Bush in which Mrs. Bush described the signs and symptoms of heart attacks in women, and she was beginning to feel those signs. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, the patient's heart went into a fatal rhythm that without treatment would have killed her. Since this woman knew the symptoms of heart disease, she got herself into the hospital in time to save her life. Nurse Kunkel wrote a letter to Mrs. Bush thanking her for her role in saving this patient's life and for her continued efforts to educate the public about cardiovascular health for women through her Red Dress Campaign.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: The Heart Truth: Helping Prevent Heart Disease in Women Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives