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WomenHeart Wraps up Heart Month with Congressional Briefing on the Importance of African American Women Knowing Their Heart History and Getting Heart Screenings


New blood pressure guidelines put more African American women at risk of heart disease.

WASHINGTONFeb. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, today urged members of Congress to continue to support legislation that makes routine health care screenings more accessible for women of color and those in underserved populations.

In a joint Congressional Briefing with the American Heart Association, WomenHeart closed out Heart Month and Black History Month with heart-healthy recommendations for African American women. Black women face a much higher risk of heart disease than white women. Almost 50 percent have some form of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke. Nearly 50,000 African American women die of heart disease annually.

“More than 60 percent of African American women are not aware that heart disease is their number one health threat,” said Mary McGowan, CEO for WomenHeart. “For all women it is important to get your heart screened and if you have a family history of heart disease it’s even more important. Understanding your risk factors, particularly your personal health history is key to stopping the number one killer of women.”

“All populations, including African American women, should have access to quality primary and prevention care, a healthy diet, and spaces for physical activity that are safe – and affordable,” said American Heart Association (AHA) CEO Nancy Brown.  “We urge Congress to keep these important measures in mind and address how cardiovascular disease disproportionately affects African American women.”

Co-Chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) delivered remarks. The Congressional Briefing also included a panel discussion moderated by Jennifer Ellis, M.D., FACS, cardiothoracic surgeon, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and included Patrice Desvigne-Nickens, M.D., National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and WomenHeart Champion Florence Champagne. The panelists discussed the latest heart health research, the new hypertension guidelines, and the critical conversations women need to have with their doctors regarding family history.

WomenHeart and the AHA collaborated on getting an important bill passed by Congress.  S.1361 – Improving Access to Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Act of 2017 will expand access to cardiac rehabilitation – a service that is significantly underutilized by the Medicare population and particularly by African American women.

WomenHeart’s 2018 legislative priorities include:

  • Preserve and improve access to health care for women by advocating for appropriate changes to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Extend access to cardiac rehabilitation by increasing referrals, extending availability and reducing cost.
  • Advocate for funding for research and programs for women with heart disease.
  • Increase participation of women in clinical trials and improve analysis and reporting by sex.

To watch today’s briefing visit: https://www.facebook.com/WomenHeartNational/.

About WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is the nation’s only patient centered organization serving the nearly 48 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.

SOURCE WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease

CONTACT: Racine Tucker-Hamilton, (202) 464 8731, rtuckerhamilton@womenheart.org

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