Bayer HealthCare has teamed up with The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease to launch “Handbags & Hearts,” a national campaign that asks women to have aspirin in their purses so they are better prepared for a sudden heart attack.

Marina Maher Communications is providing PR support for the effort, and actress Vanessa Williams is serving as a celebrity spokesperson. The campaign not only encourages women to carry aspirin, but also to know the symptoms of a heart attack and not put off calling 9-1-1 if one is suspected.

The effort is launching just in time for Mother’s Day and National Women’s Health Week, which will kick off May 13.

“Heart-related campaigns tend to launch in February, but we wanted to take advantage of this time of year so that women are aware they need to be mindful about heart disease 365 days a year, and not just in February,” said Lisa Clough, director of marketing and communications at WomenHeart.

Campaign outreach is taking place on both traditional and social media. Williams has appeared in articles on and HuffPost Live, sharing her family’s history with heart disease. Both of her grandmothers died of heart attacks.

Marina Maher is aiding both media outreach and material development, said Danielle Damiano, a group SVP at the agency.

Tracy Stevens, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Medical System in Missouri, is also helping to promote the effort as a thought leader. She hopes her involvement will give Handbags & Hearts “some degree of credibility.”

“I’m in the trenches every day on-call and making rounds in the ICU; I live and breathe heart attacks, and aspirin is a basic staple,” Stevens said. “This is a clear-cut life-saving message.”

In advance of the campaign, Wakefield Research conducted the Bayer Aspirin Handbags & Hearts Survey. It found that in purses, women are better prepared for a broken nail (55%) or bad hair day (36%) than a heart attack (17%), despite the fact that more than 250,000 women die from heart attacks each year.

When taken during a suspected heart attack and for 30 days thereafter, aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of death by 23% and lessen a heart attack’s damaging effects to the heart muscle, according to Bayer.

Bayer HealthCare has pledged to make donations up to $200,000 to support WomenHeart for every pledge to add aspirin and every time a consumers shares a message with friends on

The organization is a national network of women living with heart disease, as well as cardiologists and other healthcare experts.

A representative from Bayer was not available for comment.

In February, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health launched a Spanish-language campaign to raise awareness of the risk of heart attack for Hispanic women age 50 and older.

Source: PRWeek