Women’s Heart Disease – Ignored No More

In the 1980s, while fewer men were suffering from heart disease, rates were on the rise for women. But it was still the popular opinion that women did not get heart disease, and most clinical studies were performed exclusively on men. The issue of THI Today from the summer of 1989 was dedicated to women and heart disease to highlight the differences and encourage both women and their doctors to pay more attention to women’s heart disease.

Texas Heart Institute sponsored a forum on women and heart disease in 1992, where KPRC news anchor Jan Carson encouraged women to take charge of their heart health with proactive lifestyle changes. Drs. Denton Cooley and Susan Wilansky of THI also spoke at the free community outreach event held at the Hyatt to attract women working downtown. Ten years later, Dr. Wilansky and Dr. Willerson’s textbook Heart Disease in Women was published, with chapters co-authored by a long list of Texas Heart Institute Professional Staff members.

In the spring 2004 issue of Heart Owner’s Update, a newsletter mailed to members of the public, Dr. Stephanie Coulter contributed her first “Straight Talk” column, in which she called women’s heart disease “ignored.” Texas Heart Institute went on to establish the Center for Women’s Heart & Vascular Health in 2010 with Dr. Coulter as Director. The new center was announced at a press conference at City Hall with Houston Mayor Annise Parker in attendance. THI donated 41 rose bushes to the city – representing the 41 million American women with heart disease (35.7% of women). If the center were being established today, it would have required a donation of 61 rose bushes (44.4% of women).

And what is the most consistent advice given by THI’s experts through the years for preventing heart disease in women? – Move more!

Photo: Cover of the Summer 1989 issue of THI Today, featuring a collage of family photos provided by the mother of Joyce Staton, Editor of THI Today and a member of the Public Affairs department at THI.