Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) broadly describes conditions that include heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and hypertension. CVD is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the United States. Risk factors for the developing CVD include older age, obesity, diabetes, inactivity, family history, and smoking for women and men alike. However, research has shown that there are significant sex differences between men and women concerning the pathophysiology, symptom presentation, and efficacy of diagnostic tests and medical therapies for heart disease.

There are also persistent gender disparities in cardiology clinical trial enrollment, and women are more likely to experience delayed heart disease diagnoses and therapeutic interventions than men. Addressing gender-specific considerations in clinical care and policy formulation is a public health imperative and is key to improving women’s heart health across the lifespan.

Heart Health is part of the SWHR Healthy Aging Network, which engages the following focus areas: Alzheimer’s Disease, Bone Health, Heart Health, Menopause, and Obesity.

Program Goals

  • Review the state of the science and the impacts of cardiovascular disease in women across the lifespan
  • Promote science-based health care policies around heart health to address health disparities and gender inequities in access to care and innovative treatments
  • Engage with advocacy organizations and other heart health stakeholders to offer recommendations on patient-centered health care policies to improve health outcomes for women at risk for heart disease
  • Develop materials to expand education and raise awareness about heart health and cardiovascular disease among women, health care providers, and policymakers

Facts about Heart Health


of women ages 60-79 have some form of cardiovascular disease

1 in 3

pregnancy-related deaths is caused by heart disease and stroke

$219 billion

in health care costs each year for the U.S. health system

More about Heart Health