Heart Disease Education, Analysis and Research, and Treatment for Women Act
The American Heart Association, and its division the American Stroke Association, strongly supports the HEART for Women Act. This legislation would help ensure that heart disease and stroke are more widely recognized and more effectively treated in women. The association urges Congress to pass this important legislation this year.
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and stroke is the No. 3 killer of women. Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more women than the next five causes of death combined.
- Since 1979, the death rate for heart disease in men has declined by more than 17 percent, but the death rate for women has declined by only 2.5 percent over this same period.
- Minority women are particularly at risk for heart disease and stroke. For example, nearly half of African American women (45 percent) have some form of cardiovascular disease, compared to 32 percent of white women.
- More than 90 percent of primary care physicians don't know that heart disease kills more women each year than men.
- Women are less likely than men to receive certain diagnostic testing and treatments, such as angioplasties and stents, for cardiovascular diseases.
- Drug and medical device effectiveness may differ in women and men, yet doctors and researchers often don't know how safe and effective a particular medicine or device is for women.
The HEART for Women Act will be re-introduced in the Senate by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and in the House of Representatives by Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) in mid-February 2009. In the last Congress, the HEART for Women Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a 418-4 vote on Sept. 25, 2008, but the bill was not voted on by the Senate. The HEART for Women Act takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and stroke:
- Raise awareness among women and their health care providers. The legislation authorizes grants to educate healthcare professionals about the prevalence and unique aspects of care for women in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. It also authorizes the Medicare program to conduct an educational awareness campaign for older women about their risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Provide gender and race-specific information for clinicians and researchers. The legislation would require that healthcare data that is already being reported to the federal government be stratified by gender, as well as by race and ethnicity. Among the information that would be reported by gender includes clinical trial data, pharmaceutical and medical device approval data, medical errors data, hospital quality data, and quality improvement data.
- Improve screening for low-income women at risk for heart disease and stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently administers a program called WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) that provides heart disease and stroke prevention screening, such as tests for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, to low-income uninsured and underinsured women in 20 states. The legislation would authorize the expansion of WISEWOMAN to all 50 states.
- On average, employers spend an estimated $18,000 per employee per year for all costs related to health and lost productivity due to illness according to the CDC?
- Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer in the United States of both men & women and leading cause of permanent disability?
- Obesity is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease?
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