Heart Disease Deaths Decline In American Women

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Heart disease deaths in American women continued to decline in 2005, and for the first time, have declined six years consecutively, covering the years 2000-2005, according to newly analyzed data announced today by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.

NHLBI experts analyzed preliminary data for 2005, the most recent year for which data are available. The analysis shows that women are living longer and healthier lives, and dying of heart disease at much later ages than in the past years.

In New York City today, The Heart Truth -- NHLBI's landmark heart health awareness campaign for women -- rolls out the red carpet for its Red Dress Collection 2008 Fashion Show -- presented by Diet Coke, with national sponsors Johnson & Johnson, Swarovski, and partner Bobbi Brown Cosmetics -- at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. More than 20 celebrated women will unite with America's top designers on the runway to showcase the annual collection of one-of-a-kind Red Dresses and raise awareness of heart disease in women.

"Nothing draws attention like a little red dress, so this is the Heart Truth's symbol," said First Lady Laura Bush, official national ambassador of the Heart Truth campaign. "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. "

"This is good progress," Mrs. Bush added. "But we still want more people to know the Heart Truth. Too many women, especially African American women, die of heart disease. More than 80 percent of middle-aged women have at least one risk factor and many of them don't know it."

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"Considerable progress continues to be made in the fight against heart disease in women," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., director of NHLBI.

But serious challenges remain -- one in four women dies from heart disease. Women of color have higher rates of some risk factors for heart disease and are more likely to die of the disease.

"Unfortunately, many women still do not take heart disease seriously and personally," said Dr. Nabel. "Millions of women still have one or more risk factors for heart disease, dramatically increasing their risk of developing heart disease. In fact, having just one risk factor increases a woman's chance of developing heart disease twofold."

"I am just delighted that for the sixth year on National Wear Red Day, the fashion and entertainment industries will join forces on behalf of The Heart Truth to share an urgent message to American women about heart health," said Dr. Nabel. "Although we've helped to dramatically increase awareness among women that heart disease is their leading cause of death, our mission remains to educate women about the seriousness of heart disease and inspire them to take action to reduce their risk."

The Heart Truth effort aims to spread the word that heart disease is largely preventable. In fact, just by leading a healthy lifestyle -- such as following a heart healthy eating plan, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking -- Americans can lower their risk by as much as 82 percent. Risk factors for heart disease include:

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