Chain drug retailers Rite Aid Corp. and Walgreen Co. have kicked off heart health initiatives in recognition of American Heart Month in February.

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Drug chains zero in on heart health

February 1st, 2012

NEW YORK – Chain drug retailers Rite Aid Corp. and Walgreen Co. have kicked off heart health initiatives in recognition of American Heart Month in February.

Rite Aid said Wednesday that it has launched a two-month campaign that gives customers access to free heart health resources including "Take Heart" health guides, blood pressure screenings, and online tools and assessments at

Also, Rite Aid drug stores nationwide will hold in-store fund-raisers during February to benefit the American Heart Association's "Go Red For Women" movement.

"Rite Aid is a committed year-round advocate for our customers' overall health and wellness. During American Heart Month, this commitment includes access to specially designed in-store and online heart health resources, including our greatest asset, the neighborhood Rite Aid pharmacist," John Learish, senior vice president of marketing at Rite Aid, said in a statement. "Rite Aid further underscores this commitment by having all of our stores once again support and promote the American Heart Association's highly popular Go Red For Women movement, which is designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.”

In stores through Feb. 29, Rite Aid customers can buy a paper red dress for $1 to donate to the program. The dress can be signed, dedicated and pinned up on store walls to help promote awareness of women and heart disease. Each purchased paper dress comes with coupons good for more than $9 off of aspirin, batteries, digital photo prints and other products.

Customers are also encouraged to ask their Rite Aid pharmacist about a free blood pressure reading and other key heart health numbers. Rite Aid pharmacists can provide their expertise, counseling patients on their personal goals for blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and blood glucose. Members of Rite Aid's wellness+ customer rewards program can also qualify for cholesterol and blood glucose readings with the accumulation of 500 wellness points, which are awarded for many front-of-the-store and pharmacy purchases. 

Throughout the two-month, awareness-building campaign, customers also can stop by any pharmacy or cash register to pick up the free, 12-page "Take Heart" health guide, which contains such information as risk factors for heart disease, food choices for a more heart-healthy diet, and different types of fat and cholesterol.

Guides are online as well at, which also offers additional resources including calculators and references tools for BMI and other key heart health numbers; the opportunity to develop a personal Aaction plan from the American Heart Association; simple steps from the American Heart Association to reduce the risk of developing heart disease; and information on wellness+ for diabetes, a free program offering exclusive diabetes resources and savings for people with diabetes and their caregivers.

Meanwhile, Walgreens on Wednesday said that during February is will offer free blood pressure testing daily at all of its pharmacies and Take Care Clinics nationwide. The chain added that the effort is part of its Walgreens Way to Well Commitment initiative focused on promoting preventive health care.

Walgreens noted that over 76 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association, and that hypertension is a contributor to heart disease. The chain, as a result, is offering free testing to spur more people to "know their numbers."

"Hypertension can be managed or controlled through early detection, which is why it's so important for people to regularly have their blood pressure checked and monitored," stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens' president of pharmacy, health and wellness. "Health tests are one of the many services our pharmacists and Take Care Clinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants offer while working to educate more people about simple, preventive steps to managing their health and helping them stay well."

As part of its Way to Well Commitment, Walgreens will donate $1 for each blood pressure test conducted in February to the American Heart Association, up to $100,000. Way to Well is a four-year, $100 million commitment to disease prevention and to improving everyday health via education and early detection of today's leading diseases: cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The tests are not done for diagnostic or treatment purposes, Walgreens said, and people are advised to share their test results with their primary care doctor.

Walgreens added that it offered free blood pressure testing at all stores and Take Care Clinics last February and, during that time, more than 32,000 blood pressure tests were conducted and more than half of those people tested out of the desired range.