Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S. For National Women’s Health Week — May 10-16 — WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is issuing a call to improve awareness, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease in women. Although the medical community and public are more aware today of the unique symptoms that women with heart disease present, women are still delaying treatment or being misdiagnosed.
The quality of care that women receive post-diagnosis also needs to improve. Women are still not being referred to cardiac rehabilitation programs in appropriate numbers nor are they enrolling in clinical trials as frequently as men. Recent legislation required the FDA to develop an action plan for improving participation of women in clinical trials to spur the development of drugs and devices designed for women with heart disease.
WomenHeart has 130 free, peer-led Support Networks in 39 states that meet monthly and are led by WomenHeart Champions — women heart-disease survivors who have been trained as community educators, advocates and Support Network leaders at the annual WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic. If you are a woman living with heart disease, I urge you to attend the monthly Support Network meetings of WomenHeart of Santa Barbara and WomenHeart of Kern County.
Please unite your voice with ours for National Women’s Health Week by sharing the information at womenheart.org to let the women with heart disease in your life know about our free support services and educational resources. By increasing awareness of this chronic and often life-threatening disease and improving prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, we can and will reach new milestones in the fight against the leading cause of death in women.
Evan McCabe, RN, MN, is vice chair of the Board of Directors for WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.