- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2003

With a little help from 19 designer dresses in rose to ruby red, Americans will raise their awareness that heart disease kills more women in the nation than any other disease.
The help comes through the Red Dress Project, introduced Friday by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. His downtown press conference kicked off a campaign to educate women about the dangers of heart disease.
The dresses, contributed by top designers from Bill Blass to Vera Wang, debuted in New York during the spring design showcases two weeks ago. Draped on mannequins, they are on public display in the Great Hall of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building at 200 Independence Ave. SW through Sunday. A national tour and auction will follow.
"Anytime you see a red dress, we want you to think about the risks of heart disease," Mr. Thompson said. "Only about one-third of American women know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. In fact, one in three women dies of heart disease."
Statistics from the American Heart Association also show that 3 million women in the nation have had a heart attack.
The red dress symbolizes the fact that heart disease is a woman's health issue as well as a man's. "Heart disease doesn't care what you wear" is the accompanying message.
Dr. Claude Lenfant, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, said that the nationwide project was meant to be a "wake-up call" for women to get screened for heart disease and to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack.
The dresses vary in style and shade, from Calvin Klein's sleek, almost blackish red creation to Miss Wang's elegant bridal gown made exclusively in deepest ruby red for the project. Other participating designers are Chaiken, Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Luca Luca, Catherine Malandrino, Nicole Miller, Badgley Mischka, Oscar de la Renta, Vivienne Tam and Carmen Marc Valvo.
The display at the Humphrey Building is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors will be required to present photo identification to enter the building.


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