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New education project aims to put young women on the right path to heart health

Cal State L.A. will unveil a new project Monday aimed at preventing heart disease in young women who are not generally perceived to be at high risk of cardiovascular illness.

The campus is joining with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and the Women's Heart Alliance, which cite recent data showing that risk factors are increasing for college-going women, especially for young African Americans and Latinas. Overall, heart disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. women, killing 400,000 annually.

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FOR THE RECORD

7:22 a.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that one of the groups joining with Cal State L.A. on a heart health project is the Women's Health Alliance. It is the Women's Heart Alliance.

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Recent heart research and preventive measures will be discussed Monday at a day-long forum at the Los Angeles campus that will also feature free heart screenings, music and dancing.

An afternoon panel will feature U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, National Council of La Raza president Janet Murguia and entertainer Barbra Streisand, a co-founder, with businessman and philanthropist Ronald O. Perelman of the Women's Heart Alliance.

"We want to increase the number of young women who are taking the critical step of getting heart-checked and drive more research dollars to focus on women’s heart disease," Streisand said in a statement.

"One in three women will die of heart disease, while one in 31 women will die of breast cancer, yet heart disease funding is a fraction of that for breast cancer. Heart disease is deadly, yes, but it’s also largely preventable," the statement said. "Young women need to know more about the disease and feel empowered to fight back."

As part of the campus campaign, teams of students are competing to develop a new app that will help students track cholesterol, blood pressure and other risk factors. Additional screenings for heart disease and educational presentations will be held throughout the year and students will be encouraged to adopt healthy behaviors as part of the campus' own MindMatters program.

Cal State L.A. is among an increasing number of colleges developing ways to reduce the physical and psychological stress of attending college. Efforts at Cal State L.A. include increased counseling services and the use of therapy dogs to provide a calming presence during exams.

"We realize that without well-being there is no academic success,” said Cal State L.A. president William A. Covino.

Cal State L.A. is the first college to participate in the Clinton Foundation and Women's Heart Alliance initiative. The groups plan to partner with up to three universities by 2017, officials said.

Twitter: @carlariveralat

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