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Cardio Campaign Kicks Off in February
Heart Association Targets Half Million Annual Female Victims of Heart Disease

February 9th, 2004

By Ken McGrath : eCureMe Staff Writer
February 7th, 2004 : Physician Reviewed

The impetus behind the American Heart Association’s (AHA) new spin on American Heart Month is stark; cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women - claiming almost 500,000 each year - and surveys show that two-thirds of women don’t know it.

To raise awareness, the AHA - along with Macy’s, Pfizer, Glamour Magazine and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLI) - are launching the national Go Red For Women campaign to complement American Heart Month. First Lady Laura Bush has been active in the effort. She appeared on CBS’ The Early Show early in the month to promote awareness. "We’re trying to get the word out to women all over the country and to doctors as well,"she told co-anchor Rene Syler.

Red, the campaign’s emblematic color, is a symbol of women and heart disease according to the AHA.

Any color that makes an association between women and heart disease is a step forward. Media reports have noted the widespread perception that heart attacks and strokes are as men’s problems. In reality, the afflictions are responsible for more deaths in women than men.

Such frightening numbers could be reduced if women were more conscious of their heart disease risk factors. High cholesterol levels can narrow vital arteries and prime a person’s cardiovascular system for a breakdown. High blood pressure contributes by making the heart work harder, leaving it more vulnerable to injury. Tobacco use, diabetes, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are also all variables that women can control to lower their risk. Further risk factors - age and family history of cardiovascular disease - are largely out of women’s hands, but it’s helpful to be aware of them when assessing risk.

Losing weight, quitting smoking, moderating diet and increasing exercise are all important steps in preventing heart disease, counsels the AHA. But they’re especially important for women. Because women’s hearts and coronary arteries are generally smaller than men’s, procedures that remedy heart disease after it’s reached a critical stage - such as bypass surgery - are more difficult to perform.

More information on American Heart Month and Go Red For Women campaign events and advice is available from the American Heart Association’s website at

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