Press Release

Women’s Heart Alliance Calls on Congress and NIH to Act on New GAO Report

October 23, 2015 – The Women’s Heart Alliance is calling upon Congress and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to act upon a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that finds stronger steps should be taken to understand the impact of sex and gender on disease in NIH-funded clinical research trials.

When medical research, analysis and reporting takes into account differences between men and women, new findings translate into better diagnosis and treatment for women. Today’s GAO report finds that, despite the 1993 NIH Revitalization Act’s mandate that women and minorities be represented in NIH-funded clinical trials, sex and gender imbalances in clinical trials have persisted, as has a continued lack of analysis on how sex and gender impact disease.

British Robinson, CEO of the Women’s Heart Alliance said, “Today’s GAO report is a wakeup call that NIH-funded research can and should do more to analyze and report on differences between men and women in research. This report has profound implications for women with heart disease. Women’s hearts are not the same as men’s, and their signs and symptoms of heart disease can look very different. Despite these differences, today’s GAO report makes it clear that we are not looking closely enough nor reporting on how and why these gender differences impact heart disease. We need to overcome these barriers if we are to have breakthroughs for women with heart disease.”

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women, killing more women than ALL cancers combined. Moreover, nearly every minute, we lose a woman to heart disease,” said Barbra Streisand, co-founder of the Women’s Heart Alliance. “Despite those startling facts, only 35 percent of participants in all heart-related studies have been women, while women represent about half of all heart disease victims annually. The GAO report shows NIH needs to do more to analyze sex differences in research to improve our understanding of how diseases and treatments affect men and women differently.”

“Today’s GAO report should serve as a call to action for a new era in heart health research,” said Ronald O. Perelman, co-founder of the Women’s Heart Alliance. “We can get a lot more value for our research dollar if we do a better job of analyzing how heart disease impacts women as well as men. The Women’s Heart Alliance looks forward to working with Congress, NIH and other stakeholders to build upon these findings and ensure an accelerated, robust research agenda to tackle this unique women’s health challenge.”

The full GAO report can be found here.