The Go Red Movement

An Update on the Go Red For Women Movement

In 2004, the American Heart Association launched a grassroots campaign called Go Red For Women, designed to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease. Since then, this initiative has grown into a vibrant national movement, educating the general public, health care professionals, and federal, state, and local policymakers.

Heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases claim more women’s lives every year than the next five causes of death combined. Go Red For Women celebrates the energy, passion, and power women have to band together to live stronger, longer lives. The color red and the red dress have become linked with the American Heart Association and the Go Red For Women movement.

The positive news is that cardiovascular disease can largely be prevented. Go Red For Women empowers women with knowledge and tools so they can take positive action to reduce their risks of heart disease and stroke and protect their health. The movement aims to educate women about healthy eating, exercise, risk factor reduction, smoking, weight maintenance, blood pressure control, and blood cholesterol management.

Studies show that the movement is catching on. According to a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, women’s rate of awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death has nearly doubled from 30 percent in 1997 to 55 percent today.

“However, mixed in with the good news is a clear indication that while more white women are getting the message about the threat of heart disease, certain racial and ethnic minority women, who are at a higher risk of dying of heart disease, continue to have significantly lower rates of awareness,” explains Lori Mosca, M.D., Ph.D., director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

While 62 percent of white women surveyed were aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death, only 38 percent of African Americans and 34 percent of Hispanics had the same level of awareness.

This discrepancy shows a need for educational programs targeted toward racial and ethnic minorities, Mosca says.

The survey showed that women’s awareness of cardiovascular disease directly influenced their own family’s heart health. Understanding the risk factors drove many women to take action, although about one-third underestimated their own risk of cardiovascular disease based on medical history, family history, and risk factors.

“Another interesting finding was that a top motivator for women to take action was for their family, rather than for themselves,” Mosca comments. “This reminds us how complicated the process of lifestyle change—and taking action to improve your health—really is. We need to be sure to give women clear messages on how to prevent heart disease, and take into consideration the social, cultural, and spiritual factors that may influence how they respond to recommendations.”

The data shows that the American Heart Association’s efforts are making headway, Mosca says.

According to Mosca, “We still have much work to do among racial and ethnic minority women. The results support the concept that women are the heartkeepers of the family and that our efforts to raise awareness have many positive ripple effects in the health of their loved ones.”

For more information about Go Red For Women, please call 1-888-MY-HEART (1-888-694-3278) or visit