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Heart Healthy Challenge for American Heart Month; WomenHeart & Nutrisystem Team up to Help Eight Heart Disease Survivors Get Red Dress Ready

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WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

More than 42 million American women live with or are at risk for heart disease, and obesity is a leading risk factor threatening women’s heart health. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, and Nutrisystem®, a leading provider of weight management programs and services, have partnered to set a dramatic example by challenging eight inspiring WomenHeart Champions to successfully become Red Dress Ready by February 5 – National Wear Red Day. Through the partnership, Nutrisystem provided the eight women with complimentary Nutrisystem weight loss programs, including: portion controlled meals, nutritional counseling, weight loss support and education. Additionally, Nutrisystem is taking the lead to provide $100,000 in support consisting of a corporate gift, awareness campaigns and in-kind donations for WomenHeart, the nation’s only patient-centered advocacy organization solely dedicated to promoting women’s heart health, and providing education, advocacy and support to women living with heart disease.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in American women, a disease so pervasive that it touches millions of families and yet even a small weight loss can help reduce a women’s risk for heart disease. By partnering with WomenHeart, we have identified these eight special women who serve as an inspiration by overcoming their challenges to lose weight and to live a heart healthier lifestyle. There is no one more deserving to celebrate and wear a beautiful red dress this February than these eight women,” said Joe Redling, Chairman and CEO of Nutrisystem, Inc.

“Obesity is a leading risk factor for heart disease and 61% of American women are overweight or obese. These eight WomenHeart Champions demonstrate that women can take charge of their heart health by managing their weight and reducing their risk for heart disease,” said Lisa M. Tate, CEO of WomenHeart.

WomenHeart Champions are women living with heart disease who are trained at WomenHeart’s annual Science & Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic to become community educators, advocates, support network leaders and national spokespersons in the effort to raise awareness about heart disease as the leading cause of death in women. The eight WomenHeart Champions who began the seven-month lifestyle challenge in July 2009 are all women who have struggled with weight loss as part of their quest to take control of their heart health. They each made the commitment to fight obesity and set a positive example for women all over the country. Here are their stories:

  • Evan McCabe, 53, Santa Barbara, CA – Spending years educating and motivating patients and their families about the importance of lifestyle changes as a Cardiology Registered Nurse and professor, Evan knew that being 40 pounds overweight was not good for her heart, as she states, “I was in my own form of denial until I ended up in the emergency room with severe chest pain from heart disease!” With her weight loss more than 40 pounds to date, Evan has become an even more ardent advocate for women’s heart health.
  • Natasha Fleishman, 41, Lake Elmo, MN – At just 33 years old, with no prior symptoms, or family history of heart disease, Natasha suddenly experienced cardiac arrest in 2002 at her office. Following her recovery and after regaining her health, several stressful events in her life caused her to gain weight. With her two young sons as her motivation, Natasha is thrilled to now be in charge of her heart health by losing 36 pounds for her “Red Dress” moment.
  • Eileen Drezcka, 46, Sheboygan, WI – After surviving cancer, Eileen’s strength was tested again when she suffered heart failure. Initially misdiagnosed with pneumonia, Eileen was determined to overcome her heart failure for her wedding day last June. In 22 weeks, she met her goal of losing 21 pounds and is ecstatic to get into her beautiful red dress to help build awareness about heart health.
  • Denise Sullivan, 49, Old Town, ME – Working in the medical field for years and having lost her father at a young age to heart disease; Denise was very aware of the signs of heart disease. But like so many, she ignored them. She survived her quadruple bypass surgery but battled with weight gain and diabetes for years afterwards. Denise decided it was time to Get Red Dress Ready to learn how to lose weight, eat healthy and save her heart. She is doing just that at a 30 plus pound weight loss to date!
  • Jana Belzer, 47, Kansas City, MO – Suffering a heart attack on vacation, Jana needed emergency open heart surgery and struggled with recovery from the experience and subsequent weight gain. Today, Jana has lost more than 30 pounds and is proud to be taking back control of her heart health while Getting Red Dress Ready.
  • Frances Pena, 45, Miami, FL – As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, Frances realized she was caring for everyone but herself after her heart attack occurred and found herself gaining weight. Now, Frances has lost 25 pounds for herself, and feels beautiful and healthy again.
  • Renee Thornton, 47, Hueytown, AL – After open heart surgery and six by-passes, Renee found herself 30 pounds heavier and has struggled with losing the weight. With her husband as her support who is also losing several pounds by default, Renee is eating healthy and excited to have lost 22 pounds to date.
  • Connie Newlon, 52, Ypsilanti, MI – In an effort to take charge of her heart health, recover from quadruple bypass surgery, and combat her on-going struggle with diabetes, Connie has lost more than 33 pounds. For her, Getting Red Dress Ready signifies “a renewed life and awareness of heart disease.”

“Through these eight remarkable women, WomenHeart and Nutrisystem are providing inspiration to women across the country to overcome their struggles with weight and lead healthy lives,” said Tate. “For two years, Nutrisystem has helped WomenHeart lay the groundwork to make programs like the Getting Red Dress Ready challenge possible, and we are grateful for their tremendous support.”

The Getting Red Dress Ready challenge focuses on helping women trim away excess body fat; one of the leading heart disease risk factors in women. Nutrisystem has provided meals and nutritional counseling to each participant throughout the entire life-changing journey. Participants can lose weight and live healthier by losing up to 10 pounds a month on the Nutrisystem program. Losing weight places a premium on heart health. The Nutrisystem program is low in fat, cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium.

To learn more about the Getting Red Dress Ready campaign, visit www.RedDressReady.com.

About WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease

WomenHeart is the only national, patient advocacy organization serving the 42 million American women living with or at risk for heart disease – the leading cause of death in women. WomenHeart is solely devoted to advancing women’s heart health through advocacy, community education and is the nation’s only patient support network for women living with heart disease. WomenHeart is both a coalition and a community of thousands of members nationwide, including WomenHeart patients and their families, physicians, and health advocates, all committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. To learn more, visit www.womenheart.org.

About Nutrisystem, Inc.

Nutrisystem, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTRI) is a leading provider of weight management products and services. Nutrisystem is sold direct to the consumer through nutrisystem.com, by phone, and at select retailers, for convenient home delivery. The Company offers proven nutritionally balanced weight loss programs designed for women, men, and seniors, as well as the clinically tested Nutrisystem D plan, designed to help people with type 2 diabetes who want to lose weight. The Nutrisystem program is based on 35 years of nutrition research and the science of the low glycemic index, and offers a variety of great tasting, satisfying high-fiber, heart healthy, good carbohydrate meals that contain zero trans fats. Nutrisystem was named the “Best Value” of the six most popular commercial diet programs by SmartMoney magazine in January, 2010. The program has no membership fees and provides 24/7 weight management support by trained weight loss coaches and online weight management tools free of charge. In 2009 Nutrisystem was selected as the #1 overall online retailer in the Food and Drug category and #46 out of the top 500 online retailers overall by Internet Retailer Magazine. Nutrisystem also proudly supports the American Diabetes Association in its Movement to Stop Diabetes. For more information or to become a customer visit http://www.nutrisystem.com or call 1-800-435-4074.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6163686&lang=en

MWW Group
Amy Leibowitz, 201-964-2364
aleibowitz@mww.com
or
Nutrisystem, Inc.
Susan McGowan, 215-706-5392
smcgowan@nutrisystem.com
or
WomenHeart
Lisa Clough, 410-353-8729
Jennifer Lusko, 410-353-8729
jlusko@womenheart.org
lclough@womenheart.org

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