Heart Health: Awareness and Research for Women

Heart Health: Awareness and Research for Women
Laura Bush: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: One Week


First Lady Laura Bush has become a strong spokesperson for awareness, research and prevention of heart disease in women.  Heart disease is currently the number one killer of women in the United States.  Why this is so, and what can be done about it are the subjects of this lesson.


Students will learn basic heart anatomy, the basic definition of heart disease, something about the different tests used to diagnose heart disease and heart attacks, and what constitutes a “healthy heart” lifestyle into their daily habits.

Materials Required:

Computer with Internet access, power point presentation software, paper, pen or pencil.  Models and diagrams of a human heart and heart anatomy.  Overhead projector, transparency of human heart, with and without labels.  LCD projector is a plus but not required.


1.  Introduce this lesson by giving students some background on heart-related issues, statistics on heart disease in women and men, and efforts to increase awareness of these issues.  If possible, invite a guest speaker to the classroom (a doctor, science or health educator) to teach the students about the cardiovascular system.
2. If unable to have a guest speaker, use the models and diagrams of the human heart to introduce heart anatomy and function to your students. Use computers and the websites provided to reinforce the anatomy and function.  It might be best to allow each student to do this alone, but if necessary due to equipment limitations, group students.

3.  Review the basic anatomy of the heart and its function with your students as a class.  It may be best to use a transparency and overhead projector to lead students through the path a drop of blood would take through the heart from beginning to end.
4.  Now that your students understand basic heart anatomy, divide the class into five groups, and, using the websites listed below, assign each group the task of researching one of the following:

  • What is heart disease and other related conditions?
  • What are some tests for heart disease?
  • What are some shortcomings of these tests for women?
  • What is a Heart-Healthy lifestyle?
  • What is the Red Dress Project and how does it seek to prevent heart disease in women?

5.  Students can either write a report or prepare a PowerPoint slide presentation on their research, thus making their research available to the entire class.
6.  Evaluation of this lesson is based on the following:

  • Contribution to discussion
  • Completeness of research
  • Design and execution of report or PowerPoint
  • Class Presentation

Extending the Lesson:

Create a ‘healthy heart’ fair in your class, encouraging parents to get involved in order to have a more significant impact on your students and their families.  If equipment is available check with a local hospital for a virtual or video conference of a heart surgery.

Sources & Resources:


First Ladies' Red Dress Collection

First Lady's Remarks at Red Dress Unveiling

Red Dress Project

Virtual Guide to the Human Heart

Cardiology Tutorials

Heart Disease Statistics

What are Heart Diseases and Other Related Conditions?

Tests Used to Diagnose Heart Disease

Tests Miss Heart Disease in Women

Heart Disease Still Killing Millions of Women

Heart Healthy Lifestyle

This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University with the assistance of Tadd Maxfield