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CRITICAL ISSUES IN WOMEN'S CARDIAC HEALTH

Advocating for Change: Women As One joins Medtronic to Take Women’s Heart Health to Capitol Hill

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On May 8th, Women As One joined forces with key partners in Washington, DC to highlight critical issues in women’s cardiac health. Discover how together, we are driving the conversation towards actionable change.

Living in Washington, DC for well over a decade, I’m always struck by the beauty of the United States Capitol. The people’s house is a symbol of our democracy and the way our voices and actions can shape legislation over time. On Wednesday, May 8th, I had the honor of representing Women As One alongside our founder, Dr. Roxana Mehran, our Chief Innovation Officer, Rebecca Ortega, and our physician champion, Dr. Sharonne Hayes. Together, we shared our collective story and championed the cause of women’s heart health.

Women As One had a tremendous day in Washington, DC, partnering with Medtronic, WomenHeart, and The Atlantic to bring much-needed public attention to women’s cardiac health and the persistent gender disparities in treatment, representation, diagnosis, and belief.

A Day of Powerful Conversations

The morning session featured two panel discussions entitled “Elevating the Future of Women’s Health.” In the afternoon, we took our mission to Capitol Hill, meeting with key congressional representatives.

This was our first time engaging with legislators, and here’s what we learned:

  • Messaging Matters: Each representative emphasized the importance of highlighting issues such as the lack of research funding for women’s heart health, poor representation in clinical trials, and the need for diversity in the cardiovascular workforce. As one congresswoman noted, “It’s the issues that get talked about the most that get the work done.”
  • Shared Experiences: We were struck by the number of representatives who had personal stories of losing women in their lives to heart disease. Given that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US, sharing these personal stories helps underscore the urgency of our mission and why increased funding is crucial.
  • Representation Matters: We discussed the challenges women cardiologists face in the workforce and the importance of patients seeing providers who look like them. Every representative understood and valued our unique mission at Women As One: to uplift all women and show that if you can see it, you can be it.
  • The Time for Action is Now: Each representative we met with agreed that the current state of women’s health is inadequate and that we must move forward now. We discussed strategies for increasing federal funding and accountability, fostering public-private partnerships, enhancing community health initiatives, diversifying trial designs, and raising awareness as essential next steps.

A Continued Commitment

Our day in Washington was fantastic, but it was not a one-time conversation. We are energized and committed to working on the next steps to turn these discussions into action. A special thanks to our Congressional Representatives and their staff—Rep. Robin Kelly, Rep. Jen Kiggans, Rep. Annie Kuster, Rep. Kat Cammack, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, and Rep. Angie Craig—for their time and attention.

Written by Erika Squeri, Head of Engagement at Women As One