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National Wear Red Day
NHLBI Enlists Fashion, First Lady in Heart Campaign

By Amy Pianalto and Ann Taubenheim

On the Front Page...

If you were seeing red on Feb. 4, you were not alone. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute led a national blitz of activities for National Wear Red Day, all designed to raise awareness of heart disease as a critical health concern for women.


On Wear Red Day, First Lady Laura Bush, the national ambassador for NHLBI's campaign for women about heart disease — The Heart Truth — joined Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and NHLBI director Dr. Elizabeth Nabel at a press event at the Time Life building in New York to kick off the Red Dress Collection 2005 Fashion Show held later that day.

Nabel and Dr. Anne Taylor of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) announced the campaign's new partnerships with ABC, Catalina and Essence magazines, National Black Nurses Association, The Links, Inc. and the National Association of Latina Leaders, which will help reach women of color with critical messages about heart health.

That afternoon, with Mrs. Bush and Today Show host Katie Couric in the front row, NHLBI debuted its 2005 Red Dress Collection at Olympus Fashion Week in New York. Twenty-six of America's most influential designers, including Kenneth Cole, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Betsey Johnson
Paula Abdul wears designer red.
and Carmen Marc Valvo created red dresses for the collection. Many celebrities from the arts, theater and sports including Venus Williams, Christie Brinkley, Sheryl Crow, Mariel Hemingway and Paula Abdul modeled the dresses as the audience responded with cheers and thunderous applause.

The fashion show brings to life the Red Dress, which was introduced by NHLBI in 2003 as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness.

"The Red Dress is a powerful symbol to remind women of the urgent message to take action and take care of their hearts. Heart disease remains the number one killer of women. NHLBI's partnerships with the fashion and entertainment industries help drive these messages home to millions of American women," said Nabel.

The Heart Truth campaign also hosted an information booth for the duration of Fashion Week, offering blood pressure and body mass index screenings for fashion show attendees. Throughout the month of February, four dresses from the Red Dress Collection 2004, along with Heart Truth messages, were displayed in a window in Rockefeller Center, just around the corner from NBC's Today Show windows. More than 7 million people a month pass by this window.

The Heart Truth press event included (from r) First Lady Laura Bush; Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York; Dr. Anne Taylor, Association of Black Cardiologists;
Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, NHLBI director.

Many major news outlets covered Wear Red Day activities. Mrs. Bush was interviewed about the NHLBI campaign by all five national network television morning programs.

Communities across the country have adopted The Heart Truth campaign as their own by hosting numerous events on Wear Red Day and throughout the year. Last year, more than 30 communities commissioned a traveling exhibit of the Red Dress Collection around which they created diverse celebrations of women's heart health. In addition, from March to May 2004, The Heart Truth Road Show traveled to shopping malls in Philadelphia, Chicago, San Diego, Dallas and Miami showcasing the Red Dresses and providing 4,000 free risk factor screenings and providing information to more than 86,000 people.

Fashion show participants include (from l) designer Oscar de la Renta, WomenHeart's Maria Perez-Arton, First Lady Laura Bush and designer Carolina Herrera.

NHLBI learned that federal employees in the Departments of State, Commerce, Energy, Interior, HUD and HHS participated in National Wear Red Day. Many NIH staff wore red, including those at NHLBI's Office of Prevention, Education, and Control. Even members of Congress joined the celebration, including Sen. Bill Frist who wore a red tie and Red Dress pin as he encouraged his colleagues to do the same in his address to the Senate on Feb. 3.

All of the education efforts are having an effect on women's awareness of the disease.

"The Heart Truth's efforts, including the efforts of our many partners, are making a difference," said Nabel. Two years after NHLBI's launch of the red dress symbol, a new survey shows that more women are taking action to reduce their risk of heart disease. A survey conducted in January by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Heart Truth partner WomenHeart found that 60 percent of all women surveyed agree that the Red Dress makes them want to learn more about heart disease and 45 percent agreed that the symbol would prompt them to talk to their doctor and/or get a check up.

More information about the Red Dress Collection 2005 Fashion Show, The Heart Truth campaign and Red Dress pin (which is also available at R&W stores) can be found at

At the Red Dress Collection 2005 fashion show, supermodel Christie Brinkley wears Calvin Klein.

Tennis champion Venus Williams sports Luca Luca.

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