WASHINGTON, May 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Three individuals and two organization were honored tonight for their leadership in advancing women's heart health at the 14th annual Wenger Awards, at the Ronald Reagan Building Atrium in Washington, DC. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease hosts the Wenger Awards annually in recognition of those who have set a precedent in prevention, treatment and care of heart disease in women. The organization also celebrated its 15 year anniversary of being the first – and still the only – patient centered organization devoted to women's heart health. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in women, with 1 in 3 women dying from heart disease every year.
The Wenger Awards are named for Nanette Kass Wenger, MD, pioneer in women's cardiovascular disease. The Wenger Awards is the only national recognition for those who are making extraordinary contributions to women's heart health. This year's honorees are:
Congresswoman Rosa De Lauro
Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Policy
Rosa De Lauro is currently serving her twelfth term as a United States Congresswoman for Connecticut's 3rd Congressional District. She serves as the ranking member of the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, where she has been an ardent supporter of women's health for her 24 years in Congress.
She was honored for advocating for non-defense discretionary funding, which includes research and programs for women living with heart disease, and monitoring the FDA's approval channels for drugs and devices, with an eye toward protecting patients.
In recent years, De Lauro has worked tirelessly promoting access to care through health care reform and has requested a GAO Report to investigate the enrollment rates of women in government-funded clinical trials. She has requested National Institutes of Health information about equity between men and women in clinical trials, and has formally asked the NIH to provide more data about clinical trial enrollment.
WomenHeart Visionary Award
Jacqueline Markham was honored as the co-founder of WomenHeart. It was this courageous woman who had the idea for WomenHeart -- without her inspiration the organization would not exist, millions of lives would not have been be touched, and many lives would not have been saved.
When Markham thought something was wrong with her heart, she could not get a doctor to listen to her. When she had cardiac symptoms, she could not get a doctor to believe her. She ended up in the emergency room with a full blown heart attack, and was finally treated by a female doctor who immediately knew what was wrong and saved her life.
After her heart attack, Markham found there was no information and no one to turn to for support– heart disease in the 90's was considered a man's disease. As she tried to recover, she wondered why, when women were being empowered in all kinds of fields, they weren't taken seriously when it came to heart disease. Why wasn't there a support network for women living with heart disease.
Markham could not idly stand by. She envisioned an organization to help all women with heart disease. In the late 1990's, Markham, Nancy Loving and Judy Mingram, all heart attack survivors who experienced the same isolation, poor care and lack of support after their heart event, were interviewed for the inaugural issue of MORE magazine. These three women, empowered through an experience that few could imagine and with the strength that flows from the solidarity of helping other women, conceived WomenHeart.
Now, 15 years after it was founded, Markham is thrilled that WomenHeart, the first and still today the only national organization solely devoted women's heart health, has helped thousands of women heart patients, educated millions and will benefit even more in years to come.
Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH
Director, Centers for Disease Control
Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Service
Dr. Thomas Frieden was honored for his leadership in conceiving and implementing public health programs and initiatives to support the fight against heart disease in women. Even before he became director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009, Dr. Frieden was on the front lines battling the leading causes of illness and death here and around the world. His entire career has been about putting science into action for safer, healthier people and his work has made significant and measurable contributions to women's heart health.
Dr. Frieden helped establish the Million Hearts® initiative, a national effort launched in 2011 to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. WomenHeart is a proud partner in this effort, which has already greatly improved heart health for women across America. With Dr. Frieden guiding the CDC's efforts, we know that MillionHearts® will continue producing healthier hearts for many more women! Under his leadership, CDC's WISEWOMAN program has helped low-income women aged 40-64, who are under- or uninsured, build the knowledge and find the resources they need to prevent, delay or control heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Dr. Frieden is also behind CDC's anti-tobacco campaign, Tips from Former Smokers? This first-of-its-kind campaign uses hard-hitting ads with real people—putting smokers into a stop-smoking campaign. Some of these powerful ads featured women whose heart disease was caused by smoking. Ending this preventable epidemic, which kills more than 200,000 women each year, would take women's heart health to a whole new level.
Mary Norine Walsh, MD, FACC
Wenger Award for Excellence in Medical Leadership
Dr. Mary Norine Walsh was honored for her significant contributions in the field of cardiology, and for advocating on behalf of the 42 million women living with or at risk for heart disease. As a practicing cardiologist for more than 25 years, Dr. Walsh is an outspoken, persistent and articulate voice on the importance of recognizing and treating sex differences in cardiovascular disease. She is medical director of the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation Programs, as well as director of Nuclear Cardiology, at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana. She has demonstrated a life-long commitment to the improved care of women with cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Walsh is a leader in her profession. She's been elected by her peers to the Best Doctors in America for nearly 10 years. For the American College of Cardiology, she is co-chair of the Cardiovascular Disease in Women Committee and has served as chair of ACC's Women in Cardiology Committee, as well as on its Board of Trustees. She has authored many works on sex and gender in cardiovascular disease—including her April article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: "Effects of Exercise Training on Outcomes in Women with Heart Failure."
Dr. Walsh has been an active and engaged member of WomenHeart's Scientific Advisory Council and throughout her career has been a powerful advocate for women's heart health.
Wenger Award for Excellence in Corporate Excellence
Burlington was honored for its dedication to improving women's heart health. As a WomenHeart partner for more than three years, Burlington has leveraged its position as a national retail chain to educate its millions of customers—and other women nationwide—about the importance of taking care of their heart health. Through this national initiative Burlington has welcomed WomenHeart into its more than 500 stores in 44 states and Puerto Rico for the past three years. Burlington and its customers in communities throughout the country have raised more than three and a half million dollars in support of WomenHeart's mission.
This initiative allowed WomenHeart to launched Para la Mujer Hispana (which means "for Hispanic-American women"), to support and educate Hispanic women, who are at increased risk for heart disease. The partnership also launched the first Heart of Style Tour - a 15-city, 38-store tour offering free heart-health screenings and bilingual, life-saving educational materials to thousands of Burlington customers in communities across the country. This tour and the associated national media effort reached tens of millions of women nationwide in February and March this year, empowering them as they strive for better health.
WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is the nation's only patient centered organization serving the 42 million American women living with or at risk for heart disease – the leading cause of death for women. WomenHeart is solely devoted to advancing women's heart health through advocacy, community education, and the nation's only patient support network for women living with heart disease. WomenHeart is both a coalition and a community of thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, healthcare professionals, and health advocates, all committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. To join or donate, visit www.womenheart.org
The 14th Annual Wenger Awards is sponsored by Gilead; Pfizer, Inc.; Boston Scientific; Astra Zeneca; Genentech; Bayer/MMC; QVC; Burlington; Novartis; Boehringer Ingelheim; Anonymous; Hire One; Rochester Marriott; Lisa Scholnick; OPI; Bayer HealthCare
SOURCE WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease