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Getting to the heart of the matter: How what's in your handbag may just save your life

Heart disease and women – we’ve come a long way but we still have a ways to go. While we may no longer be shocked to hear that heart disease is the number one killer of women or that over 250,000 women die of a heart attack each year, most women aren’t prepared for heart attack emergencies.

Bayer HealthCare, the makers of Bayer Aspirin, and WomenHeart, the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease have partnered with award winning actress, singer and author Vanessa Williams, who is currently starring in “The Trip to Bountiful” on Broadway, on Handbags & Hearts, a campaign that encourages women to pledge to carry aspirin at all times in case of a sudden heart attack.

“This issue hits so close to home for me,” says Williams. “Both of my grandmothers died due to heart issues at young ages and I passionately want to aid in assisting with better education for women and their overall heart health. I am urging women to visit HandbagsAndHearts.com to pledge to carry aspirin in their handbags at all times and learn the symptoms of heart attack. I took the pledge and have encouraged all the important women in my life to do the same.”

A recent survey, conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Bayer HealthCare, revealed that 61 percent of women fear they are likely to have a heart attack in their lifetime, yet 93 percent don’t have knowledge of each of the different heart attack symptoms women often experience. And while many women know that when taken during a heart attack as directed by a doctor, aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of death - by 23 percent - and lessen the damaging effects on the heart muscle, less than a quarter of those surveyed said they carry it in their handbag. Ladies - what are you waiting for?

Campaign spokeswoman, Dr. Tracy Stevens, member of WomenHeart’s national Scientific Advisory Council, WomenHeart’s advisory group of the nation’s leading experts on women’s heart health, encourages women to not only keep daily essentials, like the nail files and lipstick we all carry in our handbags, but to carry aspirin to be prepared for a heart attack. Put your heart health front and center today by following this quick and easy advice from Dr. Stevens:

* Don’t be passive about your health; 72 percent of women did not discuss their heart health at their last doctor visit; commit to discussing your heart health with your doctor at your next physical to help identify your coronary risks and put a plan in place to address those risks – before you have a heart attack.

* Take the time to learn the specific signs of heart attack in women. Trust your gut – if something doesn’t seem right, don’t delay. If you suspect a heart attack, calling 911 and taking aspirin as directed by a physician can be life-saving.

* Take the pledge at HandbagsandHearts.com to carry aspirin in your bag every day – it’s one small change that can make all the difference.

For more information and to take the Handbags & Hearts pledge, visit HandbagsAndHearts.com. In addition, when you visit the site you can order a Heart Attack Preparedness Kit for a $5 donation to WomenHeart. The kit includes aspirin and tips for what to do in case of a sudden heart attack.

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