Hundreds of healthcare professionals at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute will wear red on Friday, Feb. 1, to mark National Wear Red Day. A few hours later, the new Cedars-Sinai Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion will be lit with a projection of the red dress symbol that represents a public education program to boost women's awareness of heart disease.
"We are asking women to have a personal relationship with their hearts to reduce heart disease deaths, just as awareness has led to declining death rates with breast cancer," said Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center and Women's Guild Chair in Women's Health. "We are also calling on women to make a personal commitment to call for more research into women's heart disease, the leading healthcare threat that every woman faces."
To mark the beginning of Heart Disease Awareness Month, Cedars-Sinai healthcare professionals will dress in red and meet at 11 a.m. for a group photo that has become a Cedars-Sinai tradition. Dressing in red demonstrates support for heightened awareness of heart disease risk factors as well as increased public education on gender differences in heart disease. After the photo session, attendees will enjoy a heart-healthy lunch and listen to an update on new heart research by Puja Mehta, MD, director of the Non-Invasive Vascular Function Research Laboratory at the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center.
That evening, Cedars-Sinai will project an image of a red dress onto the new Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion. The red dress is the emblem of The Heart Truth®, a national campaign for women about heart disease sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The lighted image will be projected onto the building every night during February to remind women to learn to identify symptoms of ischemic heart disease. Located on the corner of San Vicente Boulevard and Gracie Allen Drive, the 11-story, 440,000-square foot Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion is scheduled to open this summer and will house the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the medical center's neurosciences programs.
More than 500,000 women die each year in the United States from cardiovascular disease, more than all cancers combined. At least 40 percent of women do not survive their first heart attack. Since 1984, more women have died annually from cardiovascular disease than men. Despite growing evidence that women's heart disease symptoms differ from men's, women have been diagnosed for decades based on research conducted largely with male subjects.
The Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center is working to correct that gender inequality through research into female-pattern ischemic heart disease, the development of new diagnostic tools and specialized care for women.
Center physicians and researchers also are improving the understanding of microvascular coronary dysfunction, a condition that affects mostly women and goes undetected in standard heart disease tests; the heart's small vessels in this dysfunction lose their ability to dilate and allow blood flow. Researchers also have identified gender-specific genes that increase or reduce heart disease risk in women and are exploring the power of female stem cells in regenerating healthy heart muscle after a heart attack.
Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute