February 7, 2024

A Call to Action to Addressing Heart Health Across a Woman’s Lifespan, Informed by Data Dashboard

By Katherine Palmer,  SWHR Science Policy Fellow 

Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD), also known as coronary artery disease, is a leading cause of death for women in the United States. IHD is the reduced flow of blood and oxygen to the heart, which ultimately leads to a heart attack. Studies have shown that sex differences contribute to different symptoms, risk factors, and treatment of IHD in women compared to men. While many aspects of heart disease affect both men and women – though in different ways – other sex-specific factors, such as pregnancy and menopause, can alter a woman’s experience with IHD. Furthermore, younger women ages 35-54 are emerging as a distinct high-risk population for IHD. Despite the prevalence of heart disease and its history as the leading cause of mortality for women, there remain significant gaps in the research and understanding of IHD in women. 

To offer solutions and bring attention to IHD and American Heart Month this February, the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) has released a resource spotlighting actions to address gaps in heart health education for women across the lifespan, increase public and provider awareness, improve the inclusion of women in clinical trials, tailor interventions and treatment to female experiences, and more.  

This new call to action, A Lifespan Approach to Addressing Ischemic Heart Disease in Women, is informed by data from the SWHR Women’s Health Dashboard, which serves as a resource and centralized platform for stakeholders in the women’s health space to explore the latest national and state data on health conditions and diseases that have significant impacts on women’s health. The dashboard currently focuses on five conditions: Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depressive disorders, and IHD. This call to action is the second (after Alzheimer’s Disease) in a series of documents that elevate data from the dashboard  and recommend research, education, and policy solutions to improve women’s health 

The IHD call to action is the latest resource from SWHR demonstrating the Society’s ongoing commitment to improving heart health among women and eliminating sex-specific disparities in heart health, including:   

Stay tuned this spring for additional heart health programming including SWHR’s Heart Health Policy Agenda, which will outline steps that can be taken across education and awareness, research, clinical care, and more to improve heart health and quality of life outcomes for women across the lifespan. 

SWHR is proud to build on its work in heart health, in partnership with other leading organizations in this space, such as the American Heart Association and WomenHeart, and intends to continue tracking and updating data in the IHD section of the dashboard. If you have additional questions about this work, please contact science@swhr.org.