Congressional Briefing Women+Heart Failure: Policy & Program Recommendations

Congressional Briefing Women+Heart Failure: Policy & Program Recommendations


WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease held a Congressional briefing on its national survey on heart failure and women. The survey highlights policy and program recommendations, indicating the need to remove barriers to proper treatment, improve access to care and increase participation of women in medical research.

Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations in women over the age of 65¹, and women account for 50 percent of all heart failure-related hospital admissions². Women with heart failure tend to experience a greater burden of symptoms, such as depression, and a reduced quality of life, compared to men. Moreover, heart failure places women at greater risk for heart attack, which in turn complicates their heart failure condition. 
Research participants identified key areas where improvements are needed to help them manage their heart failure:
   Reduce misdiagnoses of heart failure in women, which are preventing or delaying proper treatment
   Address mental health issues associated with heart failure
   Enhance patient education for women heart failure patients
   Remove barriers to cardiac rehabilitation
   Improve access to support groups for women heart failure patients
   Improve two-way doctor-patient communication
   Expand access to insurance coverage
   Provide information to women heart failure patients on how they can get involved in heart health awareness activities
The research findings also point to a need for more sex-specific and multicultural research involving women with heart failure. Currently, only 25 percent of women are involved in heart failure studies³, which means that medicines and devices being used to treat women with heart failure are primarily tested on men, not on women.

Press Release Follows

WomenHeart Announces Findings of Patient Research on Heart Failure and Women
Congressional briefing highlights policy and program recommendations indicating the need to remove barriers to proper treatment, improve access to care and increase participation of women in medical research

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease announced findings from its first national survey on heart failure and women, which points to a need for better training for clinicians regarding the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure in women, more careful consideration of the financial and mental health consequences of heart failure among women as part of their treatment plan, and better patient education for women who have heart failure. The findings were announced today at WomenHeart’s Congressional briefing on heart failure and women.
Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations in women over the age of 65¹, and women account for 50 percent of all heart failure-related hospital admissions². Women with heart failure tend to experience a greater burden of symptoms, such as depression, and a reduced quality of life, compared to men. Moreover, heart failure places women at greater risk for heart attack, which in turn complicates their heart failure condition. 
WomenHeart launched the first national patient education campaign on heart failure and women in November 2014 to address an urgent need to improve care for women heart failure patients. As part of the launch WomenHeart introduced a national patient survey designed to gain a better understanding of how women are managing their heart failure. Additionally, between November 2014 and April 2015, WomenHeart also conducted two telephone focus groups and two in-person roundtable discussions composed of women heart failure patients to learn how heart failure affects women’s health and their lives.
Research participants identified key areas where improvements are needed to help them manage their heart failure:
   Reduce misdiagnoses of heart failure in women, which are preventing or delaying proper treatment
   Address mental health issues associated with heart failure
   Enhance patient education for women heart failure patients
   Remove barriers to cardiac rehabilitation
   Improve access to support groups for women heart failure patients
   Improve two-way doctor-patient communication
   Expand access to insurance coverage
   Provide information to women heart failure patients on how they can get involved in heart health awareness activities
The research findings also point to a need for more sex-specific and multicultural research involving women with heart failure. Currently, only 25 percent of women are involved in heart failure studies³, which means that medicines and devices being used to treat women with heart failure are primarily tested on men, not on women.
“We want to use these important research findings on women and heart failure as a platform to work with our partners in the public and private sectors to increase awareness about heart failure in women and improve the diagnosis and care of all women living with this life-threatening condition,” said Mary McGowan, Chief Executive Officer, WomenHeart. “By working together, we can make a difference in the lives of women living with heart failure and improve outcomes,” she added.  
Speakers at the Congressional briefing on heart failure and women included:
U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12)
Mary Norine Walsh, MD, Medical Director, Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation, St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana
Eileen Dreczka, WomenHeart Champion
Everly Macario, ScD, MS, EdM, Public Health Communications Researcher, IQ Solutions 
Mary E. McGowan, CEO, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
Susan Campbell, MPH, VP, Public Policy, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
WomenHeart issued the following recommendations at the briefing: policies must be implemented to remove barriers to proper treatment, improve access to affordable and accessible care, and increase participation of women in medical research; and all stakeholders must work together to support and optimize care for women heart failure patients.
Co-sponsoring organizations of the WomenHeart Congressional briefing are: American Association of Heart Failure Nurses, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American Society of Echocardiography, American Society for Preventive Cardiology, American Medical Women’s Association, Heart Failure Society of America, Mended Hearts, National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention, Society for Women’s Health Research and StopAfib.org
The WomenHeart national heart failure campaign is supported by grants from St. Jude Medical Foundation and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and sponsored by Amgen.
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 in 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, physicians, and health advocates, all committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. To receive a free on line heart health action kit or to donate, visit www.womenheart.org.
¹ Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard medical School, September 2008. Available online at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2008/September/Heart_failure_in_women 
²Cleveland Clinic Heart Failure in Women web page. Updated 2014. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/disorders/heart-failure-what-is/heart-failure-women
³ Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard medical School, September 2008. Available online at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2008/September/Heart_failure_in_women 

SOURCE WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
CONTACT: Eva Maciejewski, 202.464.8737, emaciejewski@womenheart.org
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