Creating a Better Understanding of Women’s Risk Factors for Heart Disease

The WHAM (Women’s Health Access Matters) Investigators Fund is awarding Dr. Michelle O’Donoghue from the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, a second grant to help improve the risk analysis algorithm to better reflect actual risks for women and heart disease.

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The WHAM (Women’s Health Access Matters) Investigators Fund is awarding Dr. Michelle O’Donoghue from the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, a second grant to help improve the risk analysis algorithm to better reflect actual risks for women and heart disease. The WHAM-funded research applies emerging technologies that leverage information derived from a combination of biomarkers to assess and identify women at risk of heart disease and further delineate the underlying causal pathways that contribute to its development.

 

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States,” said Carolee Lee, founder and CEO of WHAM “Men and women experience signs and symptoms of heart attacks very differently, but traditional research has focused almost exclusively on men. The result is that women with heart disease are frequently misdiagnosed and undertreated. If we can better understand women’s risk factors for heart disease, we can improve women’s health outcomes, which will have powerful effects for our economy. Studies show that left unaddressed, heart-related healthcare costs will surpass $1 trillion by 2035.”

 

“Up to 20% of coronary events in women occur in the absence of known risk factors and many women with established risk factors do not experience any coronary events,” explained Dr. O’Donoghue. “Existing risk algorithms may not correctly estimate patient risk in women which calls for the use of new discovery tools to help develop a more personalized approach toward patient risk assessment.”

 

“This research will forge new ground in women’s heart health,” said Dr. Hadine Joffe, Executive Director of the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a founding member and lead scientific advisor to the WHAM Collaborative. “With a deeper understanding of the pathways that lead to heart disease specifically in women and an updated risk analysis algorithm, we will be able to advance prevention and treatment of heart disease among women.”

 

WHAM’s initial grant to Dr. O’Donoghue in 2018 was the inaugural grant issued by the WHAM Investigators Fund. Dr. O’Donoghue analyzed 130 patients who experienced heart attacks and 130 patients who did not. The study is entering into preliminary analysis. This second grant from WHAM continues the progress made during the first year of Dr. O’Donoghue’s research and will include a larger number of individuals.

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Creating a Better Understanding of Women’s Risk Factors for Heart Disease

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