This is National Wear Red Day and Iowans are encouraged to don at least one article of clothing in that bright color to draw attention to a critical health issue.

Cassie Wessing, spokeswoman for the Iowa chapter of the American Heart Association, says heart disease takes a toll on many thousands of Iowans every year.

“We encourage everyone to get out that red dress, your red shoes, your red tie, whatever it is you have and dress up in red to celebrate American Heart Month,” Wessing says “Help us raise awareness that heart disease is our #1 killer and help empower people to take charge of their heart health.” Cardiovascular disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in Iowa, claiming almost 10,000 lives every year.

“One in three people are effected,” Wessing says. “If you don’t have heart disease yourself, you likely have a friend, family member or loved one who has been effected. It’s really touching all of our lives and is important to all of us.”

Special events are planned in several Iowa cities, including the Red Dress Dash in Ankeny today, the Heart Ball in Sioux City on Saturday and more Heart Balls in the coming weeks in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Iowa City. Learn more at

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)