News Releases


Nov 18 2014

In letters to HHS, CDC and NIH leaders, Senators call for greater focus combating heart disease as number one killer of women

U.S. Senator Patty Murray joined a bipartisan group of Senate women including Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in announcing that they have called on federal health leaders to prioritize combating heart disease, which is the number one killer of women in America.

“Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined and, since 1984, more women than men have died from heart disease. Yet, for the last 50 years, women’s heart treatment has largely been based on medical research on men – often to negative results,” the Senators wrote. “Every minute, a woman dies from heart disease. We cannot let another year pass with 400,000 more women dying because these disparities are not addressed. While not enough is being done to recognize the differences and appropriately treat heart disease in women, we believe that your leadership could have a huge impact on combating women’s cardiovascular disease.”

In a letter (available here) to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell, the Senators call on the agency to examine existing HHS programs in an effort to determine if more resources can be directed toward women’s cardiovascular disease. Joined by Senator Ayotte in letters (available here and here) to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Thomas Frieden and Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Dr. Francis Collins, the Senators called on these agencies to ensure women’s heart health is a greater focus in health education, science, and research.

“At a time when 1 in 3 women in the U.S. dies from heart disease, it is critical that we prioritize funding for screening, treatment, and research that will raise awareness and save lives,” said Senator Patty Murray.  “The warning signs for cardiovascular diseases are often different for women than for men, and we must ensure women across the country have the information they need on prevention and treatment.”

The Senate women’s outreach coincides with the launch of Fight the Ladykiller, a campaign to raise awareness, encourage action and drive new research to fight women’s heart disease. The campaign is an effort of the newly formed Women’s Heart Alliance, founded by Barbra Streisand and Ronald O. Perelman and two of America’s leading medical institutions – the Barbara Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.