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Addressing Sex Differences in Heart Health and Access to Care Barriers that Impact Outcomes for Women: A Policy and Public Health Approach

September 21, 2023 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm EDT

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease—which refers to several types of heart conditions—is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the United States. In 2020, one in five deaths was due to heart disease. Heart disease can be silent and often goes undiagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia.

The burden of heart disease is large in terms of mortality, morbidity, and social and economic (both direct and indirect costs) costs. Further, despite it being the leading cause of death for both men and women, only 56% of women recognize the risk of death from heart disease. There is a great need to raise awareness of the risk factors, symptoms, how to talk to providers, how to navigate insurance, and more.

SWHR convened an interdisciplinary Heart Health Policy Working Group of policy experts, researchers, clinicians, and patient advocates for a closed, roundtable meeting on September 21, 2023. During the roundtable, the Working Group discussed policy needs and opportunities as they relate to women’s heart health across the lifespan.


September 21, 2023
10:00 am - 4:00 pm EDT
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Roundtable Participants

  • Kristy Anderson, Director of Federal Government Relations, American Heart Association
  • Kristen Batstone, Policy Manager, National Women’s Health Network (NWHN)
  • Stephanie Coulter, MD, FACC, FASE, Assistant Medical Director; Director, Women’s Center for Heart & Vascular Health; Director of Cardiology Education, Texas Heart Institute
  • Rachel D’Souza, MPPA, Founder, Chief Purpose Officer, Gladiator Consulting
  • Imo Ebong, MBBS, MS, Associate Professor, UC Davis Health
  • Marvin Echols, MD, FACC, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, American College of Cardiology
  • Anne Goldberg, MD, Chief Science Officer, National Lipid Association
  • Nieca Goldberg, MD, Medical Director, Atria New York City and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU Grossman School of Medicine
  • Ryan Gough, Executive Director, Partnership to Advance Cardiovascular Health, (PACH)
  • Josephine Grima, PhD, Chief Science Officer, The Marfan Foundation
  • Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, FAHA, FASPC, Director, Preventive Cardiology, Smidt Heart Institute, Cedars Sinai
  • Susan Halli Demeter, President, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association
  • Emily Horowitz, Government Relations Manager, American Heart Association
  • Susan Kendig, JD, WHNP-BC-FAANP, Director of Policy, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
  • Teresa Wright-Johnson, Patient Advocate
  • Debbie Zeldow, Director, Science and Research, Heart Failure Society of America


  • Consider health care policies around heart health for women, based on the current state of the science, and how they may contribute to poor health outcomes, higher cost, increased health disparities, and gender inequity in access to treatment
  • Develop materials to expand education and raise awareness among policymakers about barriers to access and coverage and offer recommendations on patient-centered health care policies for women with or at risk for heart disease
  • Review the state of the science, including the inclusion of women in clinical trials aimed at treating heart disease


Support for this educational program has been provided by Amgen and Novartis. SWHR maintains independence and editorial control over program development, content, and work products.