Some weeks ago I received an intriguing message from long-time friend and colleague Terri Horsmann. As so often happens, her “tip” led me on a search for information that has opened doors to a treasure trove of resources. With the media fixated on New Years resolutions and questionable medical/pharmaceutical advice, this seems a propitious time to share some of what I have been learning – thanks to Terri’s prompt
Terri Horsmann, a healthy young professional woman, is also a WomenHeart Champion. As a graduate of the national WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic Terri is now a recognized national spokesperson on women’s heart health and a support provider for women living with heart disease.
She joints nearly 700 other women described as “boots on the ground” in the fight against heart disease. These Champions have devoted themselves to advocate for prevention, early and accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
The story behind WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, is a fascinating saga of what is, in fact, the nation’s only patient-centered health organization. In fact, in late November 2014, at a much-heralded meeting in Rome, WomenHeart announced that it has joined forces with the National ‘heart hub’ for Heart Failure (iHHub) to form a new global alliance of patient organizations. The goal of the collaborative effort is to give the issue of women’s heart disease higher priority on the personal and public agenda – with special reference to the need to put women’s health disease on the research agenda.
Mary McGowan, CEO of WomenHeart, stresses the need to “spur gender-specific research reduce the disproportionate burden of heart failure among women.
An obvious focus of WomenHeart is to raise awareness about sex differences in signs, symptoms and treatment of heart failure. The basic facts are these: 1) heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization in women over the age of 65 and women account for 50% of all heart failure-related hospital admission, 2) only 25% of women are involved in heart failure studies; 3) women with heart failure tend to experience a greater burden of symptoms, e.g depression, and a reduced quality of life compared to men.
Support for WomenHeart and the advocacy campaign comes from a variety of sources including the St. Jude Medical Foundation and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and sponsored by Amgen.
Watch for a major national patient education program scheduled to launch in April 2015; the campaign is aimed at current patient education and at general public awareness of the issue and preventive measures. To learn more about WomenHeart and the research on which the coalition is based – or to receive a free online heart health action kit — visit www.womenheart.org.. If you want to talk with an extraordinary WomenHeart Champion, contact Terri Horsmann at HeartChampion@comcast.net.