UK symposium spotlights research on women’s heart health

In a society that values gender equality, it’s important to remember that there are differences between the sexes that directly affect health. Women’s cardiovascular health, in particular, is in critical need of further study.

For the past four years, two junior faculty at the University of Kentucky have hosted a symposium where scientists from UK and universities across the country present scientific advances in women’s heart health and explore translational cardiovascular research areas.

The fourth annual Healthy Hearts for Women Symposium on Feb. 2 was the brainchild of Analia Loria and Frédérique Yiannikouris in the UK College of Medicine’s pharmacology and nutritional sciences department.

“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,” Loria said.

“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 terms of human health outcomes,” Yiannikouris said.

The day’s presenters were Dr. Virginia Miller of the Mayo Clinic; Dr. Frank Mauvais-Jarvis of the Tulane University School of Medicine; Dr. Jill Barnes of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Dr. Donna Arnett, dean of the 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,” Arnett said. “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 the Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Watch the video below for highlights from this year’s symposium.

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