Laura Bush, Not George, Will Deliver Saturday Address, Focusing on Heart Health

In a rare break from tradition, first lady Laura Bush offered this week's national radio address to promote healthy living and heart-disease prevention.

"President Bush has handed the mike over to me," she said, according to a White House transcript of the address, which will air Saturday. "And today, I'd like to talk about something that's close to my heart — America's heart health."

Mrs. Bush is the ambassador for the Heart Truth, a campaign to educate women about the risks of heart disease and the steps to prevent it. She said the disease affects more than 80 million people in the U.S. and claims the life of one American every minute.

"Symptoms of a heart attack can be different in women than in men," she said. "Symptoms in women can include persistent fatigue, difficulty breathing, and a pain in the jaw or neck. If women have these symptoms, they should go immediately to the hospital."

In Kansas City, Mo., on Friday, President Bush also tried to raise awareness as he signed a proclamation declaring February as American Heart Month.

He met with Joyce Cullen, who learned of the symptoms of heart disease from media coverage of Mrs. Bush's efforts. Cullen credits the experience as helping to save her life.

"Start by protecting your own heart, and spread the word to others," Mrs. Bush said in her address. "February is a month known for Valentines. This February, encourage your loved ones to take care of their health. It's the best Valentine's gift you could possibly give."

Mrs. Bush gave the radio address once before — in November 2001 to criticize the Taliban's treatment of women in Afghanistan. That made her the first person in her position as first lady to deliver an entire presidential radio address, the White House says. She also teamed up with President Bush to give the address about Father's Day in June 2001.