As a wife and mother, Mrs. Bush recognizes the urgency for women to make a commitment to a lifestyle that promotes lifelong health, not only for every woman's own benefit but also for the benefit of family and loved ones. Mrs. Bush believes it is especially important to educate all women about the risks of heart disease, breast cancer and prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Many people are surprised to learn that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Although heart disease deaths have been decreasing, nearly 650,000 Americans die of the condition, and more than half of them are women. About half of all women are aware of the risks associated with not taking preventive action against this disease. Mrs. Bush serves as ambassador for The Heart Truth campaign and its Red Dress Project to raise women's awareness and encourage them to take action.
The Heart Truth is a national campaign sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2002, NHLBI introduced the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness, to remind women to take care of their hearts.
New data from The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) shows that American women are fighting back against heart disease.
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.
Heart disease is often preventable. By leading a heart-healthy lifestyle-eating wisely, getting physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, seeing a physician for routine preventive screenings, and controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes - people can reduce their risk for heart disease by as much as 82 percent.
The first Friday each February is National "Wear Red" Day, when Americans nationwide wear red to show their support for women's heart health.
Mrs. Bush also wants all women to know of the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Too many women around the world are still too embarrassed or too uninformed to seek the treatment they need in time to save their lives. Some women are not aware of what they can do to take charge of their own health, such as having a regular mammogram and doing regular breast self-exams. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Mrs. Bush urges mothers, sisters, daughters and friends to go on group outings to get mammograms.
More than one million Americans have HIV - and a quarter of them do not even know it. Thanks to dramatic improvements in treatment and care, people are now living with HIV/AIDS - instead of waiting to die from it. However, this life-saving treatment never reaches people who do not know they are infected. Knowing whether you have HIV is the best way to help win the fight against AIDS. To find a testing location near you, visit www.hivtest.org.
Preventive screenings, healthy eating and routine exercise are vital steps all Americans must take for good heath. Mrs. Bush hopes to share with every woman these important keys to health.