Press Release

February 24, 2010


Go Red to Raise Awareness of the
Number One Killer in Illinois

 State public health director, Conference of Women Legislators and American Heart Association raise awareness of heart disease

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – During American Heart Month, Dr. Damon T. Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, today joined the American Heart Association and Conference of Women Legislators (COWL) in the Capitol Blue Room to help raise awareness about heart disease. Legislators in attendance were able to get a pulse on their health by testing out the My Life Check Web site.

Heart disease the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and women account for almost 53 percent of all heart disease deaths according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, one in every four women dies of heart disease. The latest statistics show that in 2007, more than 13,000 women in Illinois died from heart disease. In 2008, more than 155,000 women were told they had a heart attack.

“To help prevent heart disease, we know we need to eat a heart healthy diet, exercise, quit smoking and control other health concerns such as diabetes. We need to encourage these healthy habits and try to reduce the chances of women in our lives developing heart disease,” said Dr. Arnold. “Together, we can help promote heart disease awareness and heart healthy living.”

“We want to reach out to women to teach them the warning signs of heart disease and the
risk factors, to help them live longer, stronger, healthier lives,” American Heart Association volunteer and national television commentator Laura Schwartz said. “We have all been touched by heart disease in some way, and American Heart Month is the perfect time to educate ourselves and our family and friends on how to prevent this number one killer of women.” 

During the event, legislators had the opportunity to test and demonstrate the My Life Check Web site (, a tool designed by the American Heart Association and aimed at improving health by educating the public on how best to live. The Web site features a three to five minute assessment that will help users understand their current level of cardiovascular health, assess their individual health needs, help them to commit to steps to improve their health and quality of life, and move closer to personal health goals.

My Life Check offers seven steps to help live a long, productive healthy life:

  • Get Active
  • Eat Better
  • Lose Weight
  • Stop Smoking
  • Control Cholesterol
  • Manage Blood Pressure
  • Reduce Blood Sugar

“More women die of cardiovascular disease than the next five causes of death combine, including all forms of cancer.  I want to urge everyone, especially women, to learn about the signs, symptoms and treatments for heart disease, as well as the steps they can take to ensure good heart health,” said Rep. Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn) and co-chair of the Conference of Women Legislators.

 “We must work together - legislators, doctors, health departments and more - to raise awareness of heart disease.  I encourage everyone to join millions of people across the country working together to raise awareness of the number one killer in Illinois and in the U.S.,” said Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and co-chair of the Conference of Women Legislators.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health Office of Women’s Health administers a number of programs to help address cardiovascular health and lifestyle changes in Illinois women. One example, the Women Out Walking Program, is an innovative program that educates women of all ages about the importance of exercise, particularly walking, and has helped provide the support they need to start walking groups and clubs.

Another program is the Illinois WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) Program, which aims to lower heart disease and other chronic disease risk factors through screening and a lifestyle intervention program. The lifestyle intervention program is a 4-week nutrition and physical activity intervention that seeks to help women improve eating and physical activity habits, identify and overcome barriers, gain basic problem solving skills, set goals and gain stress management skills, understand behavior, learn stimulus control, and identify the importance of keeping a supportive and healthy environment.

For more information on cardiovascular disease or other women’s health issue, log onto

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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