The American Heart Association and China Heart Federation announced in Beijing early Friday the launch of Go Red For Women in China. The announcement coincides with the Great Wall International Congress of Cardiology being held there through Sunday.

Go Red For Women is a women’s heart health initiative started by the AHA in 2004. The China Heart Federation will implement the program in China.

“This is an exciting opportunity to reach more women in China with this lifesaving message,” said Dayi Hu, M.D., president of China Heart Federation.

“We’re making an impact already in heart health here, and we look forward to creating our own Go Red For Women movement to inspire and educate even more women that cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death, and give them the tools to take action to change that,” Hu said.

The new collaboration is among the more than 50 global agreements made by the AHA in collaboration with the World Heart Federation.

“China consists of an immense population of patients with a high morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D., a past president of AHA and medical director of the Penn Heart and Vascular Center in Philadelphia. “Working with China Heart Federation to improve the cardiovascular health of women is an important part of an overall approach.”

Cardiovascular diseases — heart disease and stroke — kill more women globally than all cancers, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined, according to the World Heart Federation.

Only one in 10 Chinese women know that heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death among women in China, according to a 2010 survey from the World Heart Federation. Chinese women are also uninformed about how lifestyle factors such as smoking, a lack of physical activity and poor diet may increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases, the survey found.

Cardiovascular diseases cause one-third of all deaths in China, according to a 2010 study. That number is expected to double by 2020 due to an aging population, smoking and changes in diet and lifestyle.

Extending the reach of Go Red For Women could play an important role in reducing the number of deaths from cardiovascular diseases because women have the potential to influence the health of their family members, especially their children, Jessup said.

“We have learned that when we raise awareness about cardiovascular disease in women, we raise awareness in everyone,” she said.