Sarah Cannon at Sky Ridge Medical Center

Have a Heart

Breast cancer has its pink ribbon. Now, heart disease has its red dress.

The Red Dress Project is the centerpiece of The Heart Truth, a national awareness campaign on women's heart health sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The red dress is the heart of the project. NHLBI's partnership with Mercedes-Benz USA and 7th on Sixth (the producers of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week) resulted in creation of the Red Dress Collection made possible by 19 of America's most prestigious fashion designers, each of whom contributed a red dress from a current or vintage collection. Among the participating designers are Donna Karan, Bill Blass, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, Diane von Furstenberg, Calvin Klein, Nicole Miller and Carolina Herrera. The dresses are part of traveling exhibit, stopping in several major cities, that the designers hope will raise awareness among the two-thirds of women who don't know that heart disease is the number one killer of women, regardless of race or ethnicity.

One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself is to know your numbers. "Women know what dress size they wear. They have to know personal numbers such as blood pressure and cholesterol as well,"says cardiologist Susan Bennett, MD, a Georgetown University Medical Center professor and medical spokesperson for The Red Dress Project.

Red Dress Project Facts

One in every three US women dies of heart disease, one in 30 dies of breast cancer.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

  • Family history (e.g., stroke)
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Inactivity
  • Smoking

Except for family history and age, your risk factors for heart disease can be controlled.