Put On Your Red Dress, Baby!

19 top fashion designers want this little number to remind you: Heart disease is your #1 health threat

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

America's top fashion mavens have teamed with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to spread the word that heart disease is the number one killer of women. To make their point, prominent designers-- including Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan, and Nicole Miller--each donated a signature scarlet gown for an innovative effort called, appropriately, The Red Dress Project. The dresses are part of a 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 kills 375,000 women annually.

"As women, we all fear breast cancer and ovarian cancer," says Miller. "But we really don't worry about heart disease."

Get the Message
The scary statistics--1 in every 3 US women dies of heart disease, 1 in 30 dies of breast cancer--motivated Miller to create a crimson dress, embroidered with a large upside-down heart.

Except for family history and age, your risk factors for heart disease can be controlled. They include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, inactivity, and smoking.

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.

Need a high-fashion reminder to get tested? Buy the project's sleek signature pin created by jewelry designer Angela Cummings. For pricing and purchase information, contact the NHLBI Health Information Center at (301) 592-8573, or visit their Web site via www.prevention.com/links.Be sure to also ask about the NHLBI's The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women and other educational materials.

PHOTO (COLOR): Red Dress pin: Heart-smart chic for every woman.

PHOTO (COLOR): This gorgeous Carolina Herrera gown has a serious message.

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By Laura Petrecca

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