Press Release

New Scientific Statement on Female Heart Attacks Underscores WHA’s Mission to Arm Women Against Heart Disease, Their Number One Killer

WASHINGTON, DC (January 26, 2016) – Following are statements from Women’s Heart Alliance (WHA) scientific and medical advisors in response to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) first-ever scientific statement addressing the distinct differences between heart attacks in men and women:

“We continue to lose a woman every 90 seconds to heart disease,” said Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, Scientific Advisor to the Women’s Heart Alliance and Director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. “And although death rates from the disease have declined rapidly among older women, they have been virtually stagnant in young women over the last two decades. Young women are currently at an increased risk of dying from female-pattern heart disease due to risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress and lack of exercise. At WHA, we are focused on addressing this largely preventable epidemic and are pleased that AHA’s statement calls attention to such an important issue.”

“Heart attacks in women are vastly more common than many realize and their signs and symptoms are far less understood,” said Dr. Holly Andersen, Medical Adviser to the Women’s Heart Alliance and Director of Education and Outreach at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “What’s more, certain conditions specific to or more common among women appear to increase risk of heart disease, including pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, gestational diabetes, early onset menopause and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Since women often experience heart attacks with unique or more subtle symptoms than men, they are far less likely to think of their heart and far less likely to act when experiencing these symptoms. WHA empowers women to understand their unique risks, listen to their intuition and seek immediate medical attention when experiencing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Too many women’s lives are lost waiting and hoping for symptoms to pass.”

“Women’s hearts are under-researched, under-treated and get misdiagnosed far more often than our male counterparts,” said Dr. Paula Johnson, Advisor to the Women’s Heart Alliance, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Executive Director, Connors Center for Women’s Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Heart disease kills more women in the U.S. than all cancers combined, with black women especially vulnerable. Despite these staggering facts, women comprise just 35 percent of participants in all heart-related studies. WHA is focused on improving women’s health by working with partners and allies across all sectors, by increasing investment in research to discover why these sex differences occur and by empowering women and their health care providers to prevent and treat heart disease.”

About the Women’s Heart Alliance

The Women’s Heart Alliance (WHA) was formed to raise awareness, encourage action and drive new research to fight women’s heart disease. It’s a unique collaboration between 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—and two major philanthropists and leaders in business and entertainment, Barbra Streisand and Ronald O. Perelman. Learn more at, and on Facebook, Twitter @FightLadyKiller and Instagram @fighttheladykiller.