Americans are losing ground when it comes to women’s heart health, and investments are needed to improve and maintain their well-being, according to a new call to action from the American Heart Association.

The AHA’s Presidential Advisory, published Monday in the journal Circulation, calls for identifying and removing barriers to healthcare access, quality and equity. 

Key indicators of women’s cardiovascular health are flagging, including blood pressure control, weight management and diabetes, said co-author and advisory committee member Véronique Roger, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, a senior investigator at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 

She and her colleagues said that it is important to tackle pervasive gaps in knowledge and healthcare delivery to address gender-based disparities and achieve equity. 

“There is no improving cardiovascular health without achieving health equity,” co-author Nanette Wenger, M.D., FAHA, of the Emory University School of Medicine, said in a statement. 

Women must be empowered to develop a lifetime approach to their health to proactively manage their heart disease risk in every life stage, Wenger added.

The advisory committee proposed a plan for clinicians and policymakers to get back on track, including:

  • Ensuring improved recognition of women-specific heart disease risk factors through partnerships between cardiology and other specialists such as obstetrics/gynecology and primary care;
  • Surveying and monitoring disease and risk factor data to better capture information needed to improve prevention and outcomes and to deliver healthcare more effectively;
  • Kick-starting heart health-awareness campaigns that are culturally sensitive and appropriate;
  • Advocating for public policy and legislative interventions that address social health determinants of health. These may include access to healthy food, public spaces for physical activity and high-quality prevention and treatment;
  • Increasing the number of research studies focused on women, especially women from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and at younger ages; and
  • Engaging communities in heart health programs.

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