Groups kicking off heart disease drive

WASHINGTON: A month-long push to educate women about heart disease has brought together a coalition of women's advocacy groups, heart disease specialists, celebrities, and corporate sponsors.

WASHINGTON: A month-long push to educate women about heart disease has brought together a coalition of women's advocacy groups, heart disease specialists, celebrities, and corporate sponsors.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is leading the public awareness push with its third annual Heart Truth campaign and Red Dress Collection fashion show.

The fashion show, which is promoted for the second year by Ogilvy PR, features original red dresses from leading designers. The collection was unveiled during New York's Fashion Week.

Awareness of heart disease in women has increased from 34% to 57% since the launch of the Red Dress Collection, according to a survey by Harris Interactive.

"What has not changed is that [women] don't think that they themselves are at risk," said Nancy Loving, executive director of WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, one of the campaign's three copartners.

WomenHeart also has kicked off two new campaigns alongside the Heart Truth initiative.

The group is distributing 100 Red Bags of Courage, which contain information on heart disease, to cardiology clinics.

It is also launching a series of PSAs featuring women in white shirts exposing scars from bypass surgery.

"I think these pictures are shocking. Women don't realize that women have heart disease," Loving said. "The bypass scars really are a wake-up call."

WomenHeart is working with Edelman and Ogilvy on the campaigns, Loving noted.

The American Heart Association has similarly publicized a study from its peer-reviewed medical journal, Circulation, which found that women are less likely than men to receive preventive heart disease therapies.

It also has launched a Go Red for Women campaign with Hill & Knowlton, including a national Wear Red Day.

Companies including Bayer and Minute Maid have created their own educational campaigns, joining Heart Truth sponsors Cigna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Macy's, and Celestial Seasonings.

Burson-Marsteller created an educational website for Minute Maid Heart Wise orange juice, which contains plant extracts shown in clinical studies to reduce the risk of heart disease.

The company is encouraging women to drink two glasses of Heart Wise orange juice daily for eight weeks.

"It's really bringing it down to the consumer level and giving them tools and resources to use the product," explained Kate Sansone, manager in Burson's media practice.

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