“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 Barbra Streisand.
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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.