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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 11, 2008

President and Mrs. Bush Host Heart Truth Reception

  Presidential Remarks

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

The East Room

5:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Welcome to the White House. Laura and I are glad you're here, and thanks for coming. I welcome members of my Cabinet. I particularly want to thank all the healers and compassionate folks who help with heart disease.

The Vice President sends his best. (Laughter.)

All of us here are committed to America's heart health. I don't know if our fellow citizens know this, but this is America Heart Month. And it's a good time to remember that an estimated 80 million people across the United States suffer from heart disease. The disease is the number one killer of American men and women. Many women, however, do not even know they're at risk, and so they don't take simple steps that can protect their health.

And that's where the Heart Truth Campaign comes in. Over the last five years I appreciate the fact that you all have spread the word, and you represent thousands across our country who are doing so, as well. You've helped women reduce the factors for heart disease. And that's a noble calling, an important contribution to our country. Every February, you encourage women to wear the red dress -- which I appreciate. And I do want to thank the fashion industry for stepping up and -- (applause.)

And the results are measurable. Women's awareness has been raised; women's lives have been saved. Earlier this month I was in Kansas City, and I met a woman named Joyce Cullen. In 2003, Joyce saw coverage of Laura's visit to a Kansas City hospital. She just talked about the symptoms that -- of heart disease in women -- it was just a simple explanation of what people should be aware of. She woke up with those symptoms shortly after Laura's visit. She went to the hospital. Her life was saved, and she's now a part of Heart Truth. And that's the effort in which you're involved -- simple acts that are spreading across the country and saving lives.

My job today is not only to welcome you and to thank you, but to introduce the Heart Truth's National Ambassador. Laura is committed to the Heart Truth Campaign. She's a great First Lady -- and she's always dear to my heart -- the First Lady. (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much, Mr. President. I want to acknowledge Secretary Mike Leavitt, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Thank you for joining us very much, Mr. Secretary.

Secretary James Peake, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, thank you for joining us. Ambassador Susan Schwab, the U.S. Trade Representative. Ambassador Nancy Brinker, the Chief of Protocol, who also is very well-known for another disease that American women suffer from, and that's breast cancer. Thank you so much, Nancy, for joining us today. Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, the Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, thank you for coming. And I'm delighted to see so many doctors, researchers, nurses, business leaders, journalists, fashion designers and models, and so many advocates, and survivors. Thank you all for coming -- and thank you for telling the Heart Truth.

The Heart Truth is this: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women. A woman suffers a heart attack every minute in the United States -- and heart disease claims the lives of more American women than all forms of cancer combined.

Many women, though, don't know the heart truth. A few years ago, I didn't. Like many women, I assumed heart disease was a "man's disease." I didn't know that heart disease kills more women than men every year. So in 2003, when the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute asked me to join the Heart Truth Campaign, I was happy to help spread the word to women about how we can protect our hearts.

I'm gratified by the Heart Truth's success. Government agencies are advancing education, promotion and research. Cardiologists and nurses are improving their diagnosis of heart disease in women. Over the airwaves, on the front pages, and in the headlines, journalists are informing women about their risk factors for heart disease. Heart disease patients are turning their own close calls into a nationwide call to action. In 2000, only a third of American women recognized heart disease as the leading cause of death among women. Today, thanks to the efforts of many of you, that number has climbed to half.

Educating women about their risk factors is essential to preventing heart disease. Women also have to reduce those risk factors -- by getting regular exercise, by not smoking, by going to the doctor for regular health screenings of blood pressure and cholesterol, and by eating a healthy diet. You'll be happy to know that we've chosen a delicious and heart-healthy menu for today's event. (Laughter.)

The fashion industry has encouraged women to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle through the Heart Truth's Red Dress Project. Across the United States, women now wear the Red Dress pin to show their support for good heart health. Many of you have designed and modeled these fabulous red dresses. Each February at Fashion Week, you're showing women that being heart-healthy never goes out of style.

And nothing draws attention like a little red dress. The red dress is drawing women's attention to heart disease -- and is even inspiring women to launch their own awareness projects. Women have hosted health fairs, "Ladies Night Out" events, and the Red Dress lunches. In cities across our country, women have chosen a night in February to put on a red dress and go out dancing. Churches have used "Red Dress Sundays" to preach the lifesaving good news.

This month, the Heart Truth Road Show will travel to 10 cities from coast to coast. Women and men can see the designer red dresses on display, and receive free screenings for heart-disease risk factors.

As women have become more aware of the Red Dress, they're beginning to take heart disease seriously. So are their doctors. Every year from 2000 to 2005, heart disease deaths among women have decreased -- an unprecedented consecutive yearly decline. Because of the Heart Truth, tens of thousands of women's lives have been saved.

One of these women is Candy Stauffer, who's here with us today. Last year, as part of my work to tell the Heart Truth, I went on the Rachael Ray Show -- where I described the symptoms of heart attacks in women. Two women who watched the show were Candy and her daughter, Carrie. A few weeks later, Candy woke up feeling nauseated and bothered by a pain in her jaw. At first, Candy didn't associate her symptoms with a heart attack. But Carrie remembered what she'd heard on Rachael Ray. She packed up her kids - "you never saw five little boys move so fast," Candy remembers -- (laughter) -- and together the family rushed Candy to the hospital. Because mother and daughter heard the Heart Truth, Candy got to the emergency room in time to be treated.

Since her close call, Candy has started exercising every day. She's dropped 45 pounds. And now, she's calling on others to take better care of their hearts. "There's a ripple effect," Candy explains. "My family is more aware. My friends are more aware." Even in the line at the grocery store, Candy will tell people about heart disease.

Candy and Carrie are with us. Where are they? Oh, there they are. (Applause.)

I'm proud to serve as the Heart Truth's official national ambassador. But I'm even more proud of America's unofficial heart-health ambassadors -- people like Carrie and Candy, and like all of you in this room. In New York and New Orleans, in Charlotte and Chicago, I've seen the ripple effect. And I've been inspired by the doctors, the researchers, the patients, the journalists, and the fashion designers who are working each day to save women's lives. Congratulations to everyone on five great years of the Heart Truth Campaign. President Bush and I wish you the very best as you carry on your work to tell the Heart Truth.

Now, I'd want to introduce someone who's been, and will continue to be, a great leader for the Heart Truth Campaign, the Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Dr. Elizabeth Nabel. (Applause.)

* * * * *

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all so much. Thank you for coming. Congratulations to each and every one of you for these really great statistics. And keep spreading the word to women about heart health. And now I'd like to invite you to the dining room for a heart-healthy reception. (Applause.)

END 4:58 P.M. EST

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