About The Heart Truth
About The Heart Truth®

2008 infograph comparing the leading causes of death among women. The chart shows heart disease as the #1 killer of women.
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To make women more aware of the danger of heart disease, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and partner organizations are sponsoring a national campaign called The Heart Truth®. The campaign's goal is to give women a personal and urgent wakeup call about their risk of heart disease.

National Symbol

The centerpiece of The Heart Truth is the Red Dress℠, which was introduced as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002 by NHLBI. The Red Dress® reminds women of the need to protect their heart health and inspires them to take action.

Who Are We Trying to Reach?

The campaign is especially aimed at women ages 40 to 60, the age when a woman's risk of heart disease starts to rise. But its messages are also important for younger women, since heart disease develops gradually and can start at a young age-even in the teenage years. Older women have an interest too—it's never too late to take action to prevent and control the risk factors for heart disease. Even those who have heart disease can improve their heart health and quality of life.

Heart disease disproportionately affects women of color. African American and Hispanic women in particular have high rates of the major risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The Heart Truth Women of Color initiative, with its partners, focuses on extending The Heart Truth messages, and engaging in national and local activities to help more women of color understand The Heart Truth-and inspire them to take action to reduce their risks for heart disease.

A black and white close up photo of two African American women, Joan and Bonnie smiling.

The campaign tells women that "The Heart Truth starts with you. Talk to your doctor, find out your risk, and take action today to lower it." Its messages are underscored by the moving stories of real women who are living with heart disease. Sharon, Orlinda, Olga, and others have allowed the campaign to tell The Heart Truth using their faces, voices, and experiences in hopes that their Stories From The Heart will help other women take heart health seriously.

Articles on The Heart Truth Campaign

Social Marketing Quarterly featured The Heart Truth campaign in its Fall 2008 edition. The campaign is profiled in six original articles co-authored by members of The Heart Truth team and explores various aspects of the campaign. The articles cover everything from research and branding to social media marketing and partnerships. Also included is a peer reviewed article on the campaign from its inception to the work that continues today as well as the team's top 10 insights into the campaign's success. In addition, below is a peer-reviewed case study titled "Using Social Media to Reach Women with The Heart Truth®" which is incorporated in George Washington University's Cases in Public Health Communication & Marketing. For more information about these articles, please contact the NHLBI Health Information Center at 301-592-8573 (240-629-3255 TTY) or by email:

Social Marketing Quarterly Abstract (PDF)
Social Marketing Quarterly Abstract (HTML)
Social Marketing Quarterly Full Article (HTML)
"Using Social Media to Reach Women with The Heart Truth®" Case Study (PDF)
"Using Social Media to Reach Women with The Heart Truth®" Case Study (HTML)


  • Awareness of Heart Disease as the #1 Killer Drives Women to Action
    In 2010 women who reported recently seeing or hearing about The Heart Truth campaign or the Red Dress symbol were substantially more likely than other women to take at least one risk-reducing action as a result.

  • Awareness of Heart Disease as the Number One Killer of Women Continues to Increase, but Women Struggle to Manage Risk Factors
    A 2009 survey fielded by Diet Coke on behalf of The Heart Truth, showed that the level of awareness among women of heart disease as their number one killer continues to increase. Nearly 7 in 10 women identified heart disease as the leading cause of death among women. This is an increase from 6 in 10 women from the 2008 survey sponsored by Diet Coke.

  • Red Dress Gaining Momentum: Awareness of the National Symbol for Women and Heart Disease on the Rise
    A 2007 national poll sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and affiliated companies, in conjunction with NHLBI, shows that less than five years after NHLBI launched The Heart Truth campaign and its Red Dress, 57 percent of U.S. adult women recognize the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness, up from consumer awareness surveys conducted in 2006 and 2005 revealing 39 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

  • Getting the Message: Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of Women
    A 2006 survey from the American Heart Association shows that more women are getting the message that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. According to the survey, 57 percent of American women know that heart disease is their leading killer, up from 34 percent in 2000 and 46 percent in 2003. Although awareness has increased among African American and Hispanic women, these groups–who are at higher risk of heart disease than white women–continue to have lower rates of awareness.

  • Survey Shows Few Women Acknowledge Their Personal Risk for Heart Disease
    A 2006 survey conducted by Lifetime Television, in conjunction with NHLBI, found that while an increasing number of women are aware that heart disease is their #1 killer, many still do not acknowledge their personal risk and most feel that dialogue is lacking between them and their health care providers on the topic.

  • Survey Shows Women are Disappearing into a Cholesterol Gap
    A survey of 2,700 women sponsored by the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association found that over 80 percent of respondents did not know their cholesterol numbers. Survey findings identified a need for further education about all relevant cholesterol factors that contribute to heart disease.

  • Survey Shows What Diseases Women Fear Most
    In a survey commissioned by the Society for Women's Health Research, data shows that women's fear of heart disease has almost doubled since 2002, but breast cancer remains the single most feared disease.

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Last Updated: January 22, 2013

The Heart Truth, its logo, The Red Dress, and Heart Disease Doesn't Care What You Wear—It's the #1 Killer of Women are registered trademarks of HHS.
Red Dress and Red Dress Collection are service marks of HHS.
National Wear Red Day is a registered trademark of HHS and AHA.

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