Heart disease is the largest killer of women in the U.S. and worldwide, claiming a woman’s life every minute
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 29, 2015) – Barbra Streisand, co-founder of the Women’s Heart Alliance (WHA), will visit with senior members of Congress and top Administration officials today in Washington to advocate for awareness and action around the women’s heart health epidemic, which kills a woman every minute and nearly 400,000 women each year in the United States.
Ms. Streisand, a passionate advocate for gender equality, will push Congress and the federal agencies for increased medical research funding for women’s heart disease; greater representation of women in biomedical research studies and new tools and testing standards specifically for women.
“The current one size fits all approach of treating women with heart disease identical to men is outrageous, unfair and entirely reversible in this century of personalized medicine,” said Barbra Streisand. “Women don’t deserve to be treated like second-class citizens. I urge our elected leaders in Washington to take a stand for women and make heart disease, the number one killer of women in the U.S., a fundamental national priority.”
Ms. Streisand and her cofounder, Ronald O. Perelman, Chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated, launched the Women’s Heart Alliance in Fall 2014 because of their outrage over the gender disparity in heart disease. Today, in fact, women comprise just 35 percent of participants in all heart-related studies, yet the disease kills one in three women.
There is a lack of awareness that women’s heart disease symptoms are frequently different from or more subtle than men’s, that their first signs of a heart attack may be nausea, backache, extreme fatigue or shortness of breath, instead of crushing pain in the chest. Yet, even today, heart research is conducted primarily in males from clinical trials of new treatments all the way down to the mice in the labs. As a result, screening, diagnosis and treatment of women’s heart disease is largely based on medical research done on men.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the U.S., yet women’s hearts continue to be under-researched, untreated and misdiagnosed,” said British A. Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Heart Alliance. “We strive to make women feel more empowered to take action against heart disease, to engage doctors in improving the diagnosis and treatment of the disease among women and to garner support for critical policy change.”
The Women’s Heart Alliance’s campaign, Fight the Ladykiller, encourages women to talk to their healthcare providers and empower them with a single, meaningful action they can take—#getHeartChecked. The term #getHeartChecked encompasses the conversation and the screenings that allow healthcare providers to assess a woman’s unique and personalized risk of heart disease. The initiative also encourages the medical community to talk to patients and peers about women’s heart health and proactively address the screening, diagnostic and therapeutic differences of a woman’s heart, and moves Congress and federal agencies to action on funding women’s heart health research.
The Women’s Heart Alliance (WHA) was founded to help eliminate deaths and disability from women’s heart disease. It is a unique collaboration between Barbra Streisand and Ronald O. Perelman and two of America’s leading medical institutions—the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
The Women’s Heart Alliance is a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity.