Peyton Manning, storied NFL quarterback, spoke out against heart disease this week at an American Heart Association luncheon in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The luncheon is part of an annual event supporting the AHA’s Go Red For Women program, which helps spread the word about the threat heart disease poses to the health and lives of women across the country. More than 350 attended the event, which also included information on heart disease, women’s health screenings and cooking demonstrations.

“As y’all know, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. It’s taken more lives that all forms of cancer combined,” Manning said. “That’s why it’s important for women and men to know their numbers and thus reduce their risk for heart disease.”

Since Go Red was founded in 2004, about 627,000 lives have been saved. Even though fewer women are dying from heart disease, cardiovascular diseases remain the No. 1 killer of women. About 43 million women are affected by cardiovascular disease and 90 percent have at least one risk factor for developing it. Many women still don’t realize heart disease is their biggest health threat.

“We are thankful that the Go Red for Women movement is one of the causes that Peyton continues to support,” said Linda Cox Collier, event chairman. “His participation with Go Red for Women brings awareness that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in east Tennessee.”

Manning has ties to Knoxville, having quarterbacked the University of Tennessee Volunteers from 1994-1997, leading the team to consecutive winning seasons and three bowl game victories. He led the NFL’s Denver Broncos to Superbowl XLVIII last season. He has been a five-time league MVP and won Superbowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts.

In addition to his support of the AHA’s Go Red For Women, Manning helps disadvantaged kids through his charity, the PeyBack Foundation.

Photo courtesy of Matt Hooper