WASHINGTON, June 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Barbra Streisand brought her passion for women's heart disease to Capitol Hill today where she met with key Congressional leaders and the Senate and House Women's Caucuses. Ms. Streisand also met with senior officials from National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Her message was clear.
"Heart disease is the number one killer of women, killing more women than all cancers combined.[i] Since 1984, more women than men have died every year from heart disease.[ii] It's time for more funding, more research, and more attention for women's heart disease," said Streisand.
Streisand became an advocate for women's heart disease prevention, education, and treatment years ago when she learned that women's heart disease is often symptomatically and physiologically different from men, yet most heart disease research has been performed on men. In 2012, she founded the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute to identify female-pattern heart disease, develop new diagnostic tools, and advance specialized care for women.
Today, she met with Members of Congress to urge them to consider the expansion of existing women's heart health initiatives, increased focus on gender-specific data for heart research, and increased funding for women's heart disease prevention and research. Recognizing that women's heart disease strikes regardless of political party affiliation, she was determined to make this trip completely bipartisan. On Capitol Hill she visited with Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. John McCain, Rep. Steny Hoyer and other congressional leaders. Her meeting with the Bipartisan Women's Caucus of the U.S. Senate was convened by Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Susan Collins. Her meeting with the Bipartisan Women's Caucus of the House of Representatives was coordinated by co-chairs of the Women's Health Caucus, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Rep. Donna Edwards.
Streisand was accompanied by leading cardiologists, C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC, Director of the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and Holly S. Andersen, MD, Attending Cardiologist and Director of Education & Outreach at the Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The doctors gave legislators a look at the front lines of this battle.
During the meetings, Streisand and her guests also called attention to the exceptional work of organizations like Sister to Sister, WomenHeart, and the Society for Women's Health Research, each of which bring light to this issue and advance women's heart health.
Yet, when it comes to women and heart disease, little has changed in the past 50 years. While men's prognosis has improved, the American Heart Association reports that 42 percent of women who have heart attacks die within one year compared with 24 percent of men.[iii]
"The fact is a woman's heart is different from a man's,[iv] yet women's hearts are under-researched, go untreated, and are misdiagnosed,"[v] Streisand says. "Together, we can change that."
Currently in the U.S., only a small amount ($246 million) is spent on women's heart disease research. In comparison, $959 million is spent on women's cancer research (breast, ovarian, cervical, endometrial and uterine).[vi] This level of commitment in women's cancer is important, and has brought great progress and saved lives. Streisand believes it's time to bring women's cardiovascular research funding to similar levels.
"The time is now. One woman dies nearly every minute from heart disease. We cannot let another year pass when another 400,000 of our fellow women die because these disparities aren't addressed," said Streisand.[vii]
Photographs from the day are available here.
About the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute
The Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center plays a leadership role in pioneering research, education, and training that is uncovering the difference between men's and women's hearts—and advancing women's heart health.
About the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute
The Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute is internationally recognized for outstanding heart care built on decades of innovation and leading-edge research. From cardiac imaging and advanced diagnostics to surgical repair of complex heart problems to the training of the heart specialists of tomorrow and research that is deepening medical knowledge and practice, the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute is known around the world for excellence and innovations.
About the Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center
The Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute is a part of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, one of the world's leading academic medical centers. Established in 2009, the Perelman Institute expands upon the Hospital's recognized expertise in cardiac care, providing patients with access to the latest technology and treatment options. Central to the Institute's mission is a commitment to high quality patient care, a focus on cutting-edge research aimed at developing new ways to diagnose and treat heart disease, and an emphasis on education and outreach to advance the understanding and prevention of heart disease in women.
[i] Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD. (2013). Deaths: Final data for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 4. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
[ii] American Heart Association. (2014). Causes and prevention of heart disease.
[iii] American Heart Association & American Stroke Association. (2014). Statistical fact sheet 2014 update: Women and cardiovascular disease.
[iv] Thomas, C. (2010, November 14). How a woman's heart is different from a man's.
[v] National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute. (2012). Myocardial Ischemia in Women: Lessons from the NHLBI WISE Study.
[vi] National Institutes of Health. (2014, March). Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC).
[vii] American Heart Association & American Stroke Association. (2014).
SOURCE Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute