House bill aims to reduce CV disease in women

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Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., reintroduced a bill Nov. 30 to combat heart disease in women. Similar legislation introduced in March in the Senate has garnered support from more than 40 health-related organizations.

The Heart Disease Education, Research and Analysis, and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act would:

  • Expand eligibility for funding to all 50 states for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISEWOMAN screening program for low-income and uninsured women from its current roster of 20 states;
  • Mandate an annual report to Congress detailing the quality and access to care for women with cardiovascular disease;
  • Ensure gender, race and ethnic classifications are included in safety and efficacy data on medical device and experimental drugs that are submitted to federal agencies;
  • Facilitate educating women and healthcare providers about prevention and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in women.

Capps said that heart disease remains the leading killer of American women, with cardiovascular disease claiming 455,000 lives of American women. She added that American Heart Association (AHA) surveys have found that many women and their primary care physicians remain unaware of CV disease prevalence in women.

Capps added that the legislation will address those needs as well as help ease the healthcare cost burden, which the AHA estimated to be more than $300 billion in 2010.

“As a nation, we simply cannot get the growth of healthcare spending under control unless we tackle pervasive chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease,” Capps said in a statement. “That’s why it’s so important that we expand access to screening and make sure women across the country are equipped with the knowledge they need to prevent and manage cardiovascular disease.”

Capps introduced the bill in February 2009 to the House, which later passed with strong support and was referred to the Senate. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced a Senate bill supporting the HEART for Women Act  in March, where it was endorsed by the AHA, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and others.