'Healthy Hearts for Women' Spotlights Cardiovascular Research

In a society that values gender equality, it's important to remember that there are differences between the sexes that directly impact health.

One area in critical need of further study is cardiovascular health. For the past four years, two junior faculty at the University of Kentucky have invested their efforts to host a symposium where outstanding scientists from UK and universities across the country present new scientific advances in women's heart health and explore translational cardiovascular research areas that merit further study.

The Fourth Annual Healthy Hearts for Women Symposium, held on Feb. 2, 2018, was the brainchild of Analia Loria and Frédérique Yiannikouris in the Department of Pharmacology & Nutritional Sciences in the UK College of Medicine.

"The National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association are funding research, recognizing the importance of understanding the cardiovascular differences between men and women and the impact of those differences in treatment, so we wanted to replicate this at the University of Kentucky by bringing to the table ongoing research and therapies in development," said Loria.

"It's very important to understand how gender affects the underlying mechanisms as part of the process to find better and more adapted treatment, which should make a huge difference in term of human health outcomes," said Yiannikouris.

The day's presenters were Dr. Virginia Miller, Mayo Clinic; Dr. Frank Mauvais-Jarvis, Tulane University School of Medicine; Dr. Jill Barnes, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr. Donna Arnett, dean, UK College of Public Health.

“Cardiovascular disease and stroke cause one in three deaths among women each year, killing one U.S. woman every 80 seconds. Women are less likely to survive a cardiac event than men," said Arnett. "It's critical that we begin to consider gender as a biological variable in heart disease, and this symposium is a great way to spur that kind of thinking in study design."

The symposium was sponsored by the Department of Pharmacology & Nutritional Sciences in the College of Medicine, the Gill Heart Institute, Saha Cardiovascular Research Center, Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, and Center for Clinical and Translational Science.