ANAHEIM, California – When Rita Owens was diagnosed with heart failure, her family rallied together.

They attended doctor’s appointments and learned all they could about the condition. They took pictures of which pills to take at different times of day to use as a visual checklist. Because her diet had to change, they changed theirs, too, as a show of solidarity and a step toward prevention.

Then her daughter was asked to share the family’s story. Having long been in the public eye, the daughter preferred to keep this private.

“But my mother said, ‘I’m all for anything I can do to prevent someone from going through what I’ve had to go through,’” entertainer Queen Latifah said. “My mother is that type of person – she wants to help people. I’m the mini-her, so I’m doing my job.”

Since Owens’ urging more than two years ago, Latifah has been the face of Rise Above Heart Failure, the American Heart Association’s awareness campaign about treating and preventing heart failure. On Sunday, AHA CEO Nancy Brown honored Latifah’s work by presenting her the Woman of Distinction Award at the organization’s top science gathering, Scientific Sessions.

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