Press Release

Women’s Heart Alliance and WomenHeart Launch National Awareness Campaign To Encourage Women To Get Their Hearts Checked As COVID-19 Increases Risk of Heart Disease

The national PSA campaign informs women that “Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of Women,” urges women to “Know The Signs” of a heart attack and get their hearts checked with a health care provider. 

Women’s Heart Alliance (WHA), a non-profit created by Barbra Streisand with Dr. Noel Bairey Merz and Dr. Holly Andersen as scientific advisors and focused on the awareness, treatment and prevention of women’s heart disease and gender equity in cardiovascular research, today launched a new PSA campaign to educate women about the risks associated with heart disease, the #1 killer of women in the U.S. The PSA campaign also highlights the symptoms of a heart attack in women, which can differ from and be more subtle than those in men. WHA is partnering with WomenHeart, the nation’s only patient-centered organization dedicated solely to serving women living with or at risk for heart disease, to advance awareness of women’s heart health, especially as COVID-19 accelerates the risk of heart disease in women. 

Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death for women in the United States, and rates are rising in young women, especially in women of color,” said Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars Sinai and WHA scientific advisor. “Equally as alarming, 12 times as many women die of heart disease every year than from breast cancer. Cardiovascular disease now must follow the example of breast cancer awareness — early detection and treatment, which have been so successful in reducing breast cancer mortality — because many women remain in the dark about their leading health threat,” she added. 

While heart disease is a recognized public health burden, it is not commonly known as the #1 killer of women in the United States. The American Heart Association reports that, even among women, awareness of this key statistic declined from 65% in 2009 to only 44% in 2019. The national PSA campaign aims to reverse this trend by building awareness of the severity and prevalence of heart disease in women. 

Heart disease remains the #1 killer of women in America. This staggering statistic has made heart disease a personal passion of mine. It is my hope that the PSA will help all women understand that this is a public health crisis. Women must get their hearts checked,” said acclaimed philanthropist and activist Barbra Streisand. 

WomenHeart CEO Celina Gorre said, “In partnership with WHA, WomenHeart is sounding the alarm for the urgent need for women to take control of their heart health. With this campaign, we are empowering women with knowledge and inspiration to seek out health care at this critical juncture, to become aware of their risk factors for heart disease, and, if they have experienced a heart event or diagnosis, to access support from other women who have been in their shoes. Knowledge and support help women not only to live healthier lives but also to thrive.” 

Musician Lady Gaga’s song “The Cure” serves as the soundtrack for the PSA, which will air on 9,500 TV and radio stations nationwide. Social media ads will be disseminated on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Both the WHA and WomenHeart websites will feature the TV PSA and an educational tip sheet with heart health information and resources specifically for women. Among the key tips: 

  1. Get Heart Checked. A health care provider can calculate a woman’s 10-year and lifetime risk of heart disease. Tests and screenings will vary depending on age and family history. A heart check should include medical history, screenings, lifestyle (diet, exercise, alcohol and tobacco habits), and risk factors. 
  2. Know The Signs. The symptoms of a heart attack in women can be different and more subtle than in men. In addition to chest pain, which is the most common sign in both women and men, women are more likely to have a least one of these other signs: jaw pain, nausea and indigestion, unusual fatigue, dizziness, backache, and shortness of breath. 

“Despite advances in science and medicine, death rates from heart disease are increasing in the U.S. and increasing the fastest in young women. This is tragic,” said WHA Medical Advisor Dr. Holly Andersen, director of education and outreach at Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute and attending cardiologist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Covid has made this worse — women have been disproportionately affected by stress, delayed health care visits and prioritizing others. Now more than ever women need to understand their risk and take care of their hearts. This PSA is a call to action for women – Get Heart Checked. We must get this message out.” 

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MEDIA CONTACT: Samantha McGee: [email protected], 202-216-1693 

ABOUT WOMEN’S HEART ALLIANCE: The Women’s Heart Alliance (WHA) was formed to raise awareness, encourage action and drive new research to fight women’s heart disease. Learn more at www.womensheartalliance.org. 

ABOUT WOMENHEART: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is the only patient centered organization dedicated solely to serving the millions of women in the United States living with or at risk for heart disease—the leading cause of death in women. WomenHeart is devoted to advancing women’s heart health through patient support, community education and advocacy. For more information, visit www.womenheart.org.