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Power of Women: Elizabeth Banks Honored for Her Work With American Heart Assn.

Thesp receives org's Go Red for Women Award

When Banks got involved with the American Heart Assn.’s Go Red for Women campaign, she saw the opportunity to educate women about cardiac disease and heart attacks through gentle humor and real stories from real survivors of the disease. And thus her short film, “Just a Little Heart Attack,” was born.

“I was really interested in directing. I could make something that could reach a lot of women,” she says, noting that it took a little persuasion to get the AHA on board with the humor concept.

In the film, a busy working mom experiences heart attack symptoms and ignores them until her son points out the obvious.

SEE ALSO: Nicole Kidman, Amy Pascal, Amy Poehler, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington: Variety’s Power of Women

“Most women don’t know the signs of a heart attack,” she says. “They think they have gas, or a hot flash, or cramp from their period. Women don’t call 911 and don’t see a general practitioner. I wanted to highlight that. We need to speak about it and if you get quick medical attention, the damage can be rectified. Most attacks are small and can occur over time.”

As to what drew her to this campaign, she says: “It’s really simple. I didn’t know that heart disease was the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S. — killing more than all forms of cancer combined.”

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