In Brief

APA President Diane F. Halpern, PhD, attended a Feb. 2 White House briefing that promoted behaviors that benefit Americans' hearts. At the event, President George W. Bush proclaimed February American Heart Month and urged Americans to join the fight against heart disease--the nation's No. 1 killer.

He also announced the creation of a nationwide campaign, "The Heart Truth," to encourage women--for whom heart disease is responsible for one of three deaths--to learn more about heart health, lead healthier lives and talk with their doctors about their risk for developing heart disease.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are partnering with the White House on the campaign.

First Lady Laura Bush also spoke about women's health--a personal interest of hers--at the heart-healthy luncheon she hosted after the briefing. There, Halpern talked heart health with attendees from NIH and HHS, making sure to point out the ways psychologists can aid in heart disease prevention.

"I discussed the reciprocal ways psychobiosocial research and practice inform each other and the critical importance of preventing heart disease with stress reduction, diet and exercise," she says. "I even managed to tell some of the attendees about APA's Healthy Workplace Awards."

Those awards aim to improve the health of hearts, and the rest of the body and mind, by publicizing the need to reduce stress at work, she adds.

Psychological research bears out the president's contention at the briefing that many of the risk factors that can lead to heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes, can be prevented or controlled, Halpern notes. In fact, stress appears to contribute directly and significantly to artherosclerosis, she points out. The effects of stress also include damage to vessel walls and lining, and increases in fat deposits in injured areas of the heart, she adds.

--K. KERSTING

Further Reading

For more on the White House event, go to www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/02/20040202-8.html