The sixth annual Science and Leadership Symposium for Women and Heart Disease, scheduled for Oct. 6 through Oct. 10 at Mayo Clinic, opens on the heels of timely research furthering the concern that women are less likely than men to receive heart care.
“This year’s conference comes at a perfect time for discussions on new research this year that tells us women continue to be less likely than men to receive the heart care their symptoms warrant,” says Sharonne Hayes, M.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Women’s Heart Clinic and the conference’s medical director.
“Heart disease remains the leading killer of women, and yet women are not getting the proper treatment. The women who come to this conference are critical to spreading the word about preventive heart care, recognizing cardiac symptoms and getting optimal cardiovascular medical treatment .”
Sixty women with heart disease from across the country were selected to attend the symposium; they range in age from 33 to 71. Their task is to learn about heart disease and return to their communities to educate other women about the importance of heart health and proper treatment. Upon return home, participants are required to perform 24 hours of community outreach educational activities and document those efforts.
The symposium is co-sponsored by Mayo Clinic Women’s Heart Clinic and WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.
A study this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women are two to three times less likely to get defibrillators than men. In a study earlier this year in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Hayes and co-authors found that women are included in clinical trials far less often than men, and when they are included the results are not reported by sex.
Following this year’s conference, more than 350 women with heart disease will have been trained to educate other women, Dr. Hayes says. Their activities have included lobbying lawmakers for increased funding for heart health initiatives, raising money, appearing in local and national media, and speaking to small and large groups.
Past participants are active in 41 states and have helped form 50 support networks. In Minnesota, 14 participants of the symposium are working to educate women and the public about women and heart disease.