August 20, 2015 — WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease announced that it will host the first National Policy & Science Summit on Women's Cardiovascular Health, Oct. 26-27, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The event is presented in a commentary, Taking a Giant Step Toward Women's Heart Health: Finding Policy Solutions to Unanswered Research Questions, which is a history of the 30-year women's heart health movement. The commentary is published in the September/October issue of Women's Health Issues, the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University.
Based on the historical overview in the commentary, the National Policy & Science Summit on Women's Cardiovascular Health is a significant and timely next step in the national effort to eradicate heart disease as the leading cause of death in women.
"The Summit is a game changer for the field of women's cardiovascular health," said Mary E. McGowan, CEO of WomenHeart. "Leaders in this field and patients are meeting to address the lack of sufficient policy, programs and funding for a disease that continues to debilitate and kill more women than all cancers combined. The Summit committee and participants are dedicated to making policy and scientific recommendations that will end the disparities in early and accurate diagnosis and proper treatment for women with heart disease," she continued.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, and more women than men have died from cardiovascular disease each year since 1984. In the commentary, the authors provide the 30-year history of the women's heart health movement, which highlights the fact that while women's cardiovascular disease has been on the medical landscape for nearly 30 years, it was not until this century that significant federal funding was allocated to build awareness and promote prevention. However, due to the underrepresentation of women in clinical trials and insufficient funding for women-specific research regarding medications, medical devices, and procedures for women with heart disease, progress in diagnosis and treatment has been slow.
"Our past efforts described in the commentary have shown the progress we have made, but we clearly have further to go - both in research needs and policy changes to promote women's heart health," said co-author Susan F. Wood, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, director, Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, The George Washington University, Milken Institute School of Public Health.
"Despite many advances, heart disease remains the number one cause of death in women," said commentary authors. "There continues to be a lack of specific attention on sex and gender differences in research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment in both our public health strategies and healthcare systems. Change is clearly needed in our approach to addressing these high priorities if we are to effectively reduce the burden of heart disease in women," they said.
The Summit will bring together leaders in the field of women's cardiovascular disease, patient advocates and others who will critically evaluate the state of women's heart health. The goal is to identify policy steps needed to ensure the establishment of a woman-centered approach to heart health through the development of solutions to the scientific questions posed for Summit participants.
Participation in the National Policy & Science Summit on Women's Cardiovascular Health is by invitation only.
For more information: www.womenheart.org