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Letter to Edward M. Kennedy and Mike Enzi, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Re: Heart for Women Act

Stabenow, Colleagues Push HELP Committee on Heart for Women Act

Letter urges HELP Committee to schedule mark up of HEART legislation

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), along with 31 of her Senate colleagues, including all 16 women senators, today sent a letter to Chairman Kennedy (D-MA) and Ranking Member Enzi (R-WY) urging them to schedule the HEART for Women Act (S.573) mark-up this spring in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). This important legislation outlines simple but major steps that we can take today to help address the impact of heart disease on women across the country.

"Every minute in America, a woman falls victim to heart disease, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases," said Stabenow. "The HELP Committee must move forward with this critical legislation, so we can help prevent, diagnose, and treat heart disease."

The HEART for Women Act takes a three pronged approach to reducing the cardiovascular disease death rate for women, through improved health education, gender specific analysis and research, and increased access to screening for women. In an effort to deliver better health care to women, the bill authorizes grants to educate doctors about the unique aspects of preventing, diagnosing and treating women with heart disease.

Full Text of the Letter Follows:

February 14, 2008

The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mike Enzi
Ranking Member
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Kennedy and Senator Enzi:

We are writing on behalf of the 42 million American women living with heart disease or stroke to urge you to schedule the HEART for Women Act (S. 573) for mark-up in the HELP Committee this spring. The HEART for Women Act has strong, bipartisan support, including all 16 female Senators among its 40 co-sponsors.

As you know, heart disease is the number one killer in both men and women in America. A significant disparity exists in heart disease and stroke mortality between women and men however, with cardiovascular diseases killing about 50,000 more women than men in 2004. Unfortunately, too many women and their healthcare providers still think of heart disease as a "man's disease," and as a result, studies have shown that women are less likely than men to be referred for diagnostic tests, to receive interventional procedures such as angioplasties and stents, and/or be prescribed preventive medication. Women are also more likely than men to die within a year of their first heart attack, and women are 1.5 times more likely to be readmitted to the hospital after heart bypass surgery.

The HEART for Women Act contains a number of provisions that would help to address the cardiovascular health disparities facing women today. These include:

• Providing the public with better information about safe and effective treatments for women. More specifically, the bill requires that drug and medical device safety and efficacy information already being reported to the federal government be stratified by sex, race and ethnicity. This information will help doctors, researchers, and patients better understand why certain treatments work better (or worse) in some groups of people than in others.

• Expanding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WISEWOMAN program to all 50 states. The WISEWOMAN program, which is currently limited to just 14 states, provides free heart disease and stroke prevention screening to low-income, uninsured women. This program has proven to be tremendously successful in reaching those women most at risk for heart disease and stroke; in fact, 3 out of 4 of the women screened by WISEWOMAN have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. This program is a companion program to the CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which is already available in all 50 states.

• Helping to raise awareness among women and their healthcare providers about their risk for heart disease and stroke. Additional education for healthcare providers is particularly important; according to a 2004 survey of physicians by the American Heart Association, fewer than 1 in 5 doctors knew that more women than men die each year from cardiovascular disease.

Virtually all of us know someone - a mother, daughter, sister, or friend - who suffers from heart disease or stroke and have seen the impact these devastating diseases have on women and their families. We stand ready to work with you to move the HEART for Women Act forward to the full Senate this year. Thank you for your consideration.


Senator Stabenow (D-MI) Senator Murkowski (D-AK) Senator Landrieu (D-LA)
Senator Bingaman (D-NM) Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Senator Levin (D-MI) Senator Lieberman (I-CT) Senator Dorgan (D-ND)
Senator Casey (D-PA) Senator Boxer (D-CA) Senator Clinton (D-NY)
Senator Mikulski (D-MD) Senator Conrad (D-ND) Senator Snowe (R-ME)
Senator Cantwell (D-WA) Senator Bayh (D-IN) Senator Sanders (I-VT)
Senator Johnson (D-SD) Senator Feinstein (D-CA) Senator Hutchison (R-TX)
Senator Dole (R-NC) Senator Collins (R-ME) Senator Dodd (D-CT)
Senator Domenici (R-NM) Senator McCaskill (D-MO) Senator Cardin (D-MD)
Senator Lincoln (D-AR) Senator Murray (D-WA) Senator Cochran (R-MS)
Senator Schumer (D-NY) Senator Klobuchar (D-MN)

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