Have you heard of WomenHeart? It’s a special effort to raise awareness about the toll heart disease is taking on women.
This group, led by the organization is called The National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease, is committed to this cause all year round. Their mission, similar to the Go Red for Women(C)‘s effort, is to raise awareness about heart disease in women and to support women who are at risk for, or who are experiencing heart disease.
WomenHeart, the organization behind the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, was founded in 1999 by three women, Nancy Loving, Jackie Markham, and Judy Mingram. All three women had suffered heart attacks while in their 40s, and they were brought together because they were each interviewed for an article about women and heart disease. According to their website, WomenHeart has accomplished the following:
- — Grown its membership to thousands of women at-risk and living with heart disease, their friends and family members, health care professionals, and media nationwide
- — Developed the only national network of patient support groups across the country (110 groups in 37 states)
- — Launched a dynamic online support community that connects women heart disease survivors across the country, and provide them with peer-to-peer support
- — Trained more than 600 women heart disease survivors as community educators via the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium in collaboration with Mayo Clinic
- — Published the 10Q Report: Advancing Women’s Heart Health Through Improved Research, Diagnosis and Treatment, a document outlining the top 10 unanswered questions regarding women’s heart health (2006 and 2011)
- — Hosted bi-annual Advocacy Institute conferences to train women living with heart disease to be public policy advocates and form the basis of a grassroots policy movement
- — Crafted the Red Bag of Courage(R) program placing educational information on women and heart disease directly into the hands of hundreds of thousands of women living with or at-risk for heart disease
- — Advocated for the HEART for Women Act resulting in it passing the House of Representatives in Fall 2010 and a key provision was signed into law in July 2012
Why the focus on women and heart disease?
You might be wondering why so many organizations are making such a big push to help women prevent or deal with heart disease. The Go Red for Women website makes this pretty easy to understand. It notes on the homepage that heart disease is “the No. 1 killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer.”
Even more to the point, heart symptoms do not always manifest in women the same way they do in men. As this article from ABC News notes, women are more likely to experience shortness of breath or jaw pain, symptoms that men experience only rarely. In fact, women often ignore symptoms of heart disease because they assume that it is just a sign of some other type of problem.
February is almost over, but it’s never a bad time to support efforts like WomenHeart’s National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. Education can be the first step towards prevention, and knowing you are not alone in your battle can be the first step towards getting better.
Why would we NOT want to support those kinds of efforts?