• Heart failure (HF) affects nearly six million Americans and a new case is diagnosed every 35 seconds.  
  • The “Red Steps Challenge” aims to inspire Americans to take small, heart-healthy steps in their favorite pair of red socks.
  • For a second year, Queen Latifah, along with her mother, Rita Owens, who lives with HF, joins with the American Heart Association to inspire Americans to “Rise Above Heart Failure.”

DALLAS, April 14, 2016 — The American Heart Association is calling on people to take six million “red steps” in recognition of the nearly six million Americans living with heart failure (HF).

To shine a spotlight on HF and how to manage it, award-winning actress, singer, songwriter and television producer Queen Latifah and her mother Rita Owens, who lives with HF, are continuing to lend their voices to the American Heart Association’s Rise Above Heart Failure initiative, nationally supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. By joining in on the “Red Step Challenge,” they want to raise awareness of the risks and symptoms of HF, improve understanding to better manage the condition and inspire Americans to take their own steps to become more physically active — while wearing their favorite pair of red socks.

Everyone can get involved in the “Red Steps Challenge”. Here’s how:

  • Snap it: Step into your favorite pair of red socks and snap a photo of your “red steps.”
  • Post it: Visit RiseAboveHF.org to donate your steps and upload your red-step selfie with thousands of others.
  • Share it: Then, don’t forget to share it with friends and family in social media #RiseAboveHF.

“My mom’s heart failure diagnosis was scary and overwhelming, but by educating ourselves about the condition, its symptoms and how to manage it, our whole family has been able to ‘rise above’ HF,” Queen Latifah said. “We’re excited to get America talking about HF and sharing the small steps we can all take toward a healthier heart.”

While the term "heart failure” can be frightening, it doesn’t mean that the heart has stopped beating — it means that the heart is weakened and can’t pump enough blood around the body. It can be debilitating and deadly. Early diagnosis and management of HF are crucial and can make a difference in a person’s quality of life.

There are nearly 915,000 new cases of HF reported annually and the numbers are rising. At least one new diagnosis occurs every 35 seconds and nearly two hospitalizations for HF occur every minute, yet awareness and understanding of the disease and its symptoms are low. Almost half (46%) of respondents in a 2015 survey incorrectly said HF is a silent killer with no symptoms. Additionally, many Americans may not be aware of the disproportionate impact HF has on minority communities.

“But there’s a lot that we can do together, and we’re pleased to be working with Queen Latifah and Ms. Owens, and with members of the Rise Above Heart Failure alliance to find ways we can help change the course of HF through education, awareness and support,” said Clyde W. Yancy, M.D. past president of the American Heart Association and Chief of Cardiology and Magerstadt Professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “As we bring these six million ‘red steps’ to life for patients and for their loved ones, we’re confident those are steps toward our initiative goal to reduce HF hospitalizations and increase awareness and understanding of this serious disease.”

To learn more about HF, share experiences and access tools and resources to rise above HF through small steps, go www.RiseAboveHF.org.


The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

For Media Inquiries: (214) 706-1173

Staff contacts: Cathy Lewis – (214) 706-1324; cathy.lewis@heart.org

Alexson Calahan – (515) 994-0772; alexson.calahan@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: (800)-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and strokeassociation.org