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October 2011 conference focuses on the role of gender in cardiovascular disease

BETHESDA, Md. (August 18, 2011) Heart disease has sometimes been considered a men's health issue, but the statistics prove otherwise. In the US alone, more than 42 million women live with the problem. Heart disease is responsible for more than one-third of deaths among American women each year, making it the number one killer of females older than 20. What's more, the signs of heart attack in women differ from those in men, tending toward vomiting, throat discomfort, anxiety and a feeling of pressure in the chest as opposed to the crushing, right-side chest pain more often reported in men. Indeed, the physiology of heart disease differs between men and women in ways that scientists have only begun to understand.

Experts will present the latest research about these differences at the Physiology of Cardiovascular Disease: Gender Disparities conference, October 12󈝺, 2011 at the University of Mississippi in Jackson. The conference, sponsored by the American Physiological Society with additional support from the American Heart Association, will coincide with the grand opening of the Women's Health Research Center at the university's medical center. Presentations will cover gender differences in heart disease, vascular function, kidney disease and metabolism as well as provide insight on how perimenopause and menopause affect women's heart health.

"There is a big interest in sex differences in cardiovascular disease. It is one of the most frequently written about topics in the medical literature lately," said conference chair Jane Reckelhoff, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Mississippi and director of the new Women's Health Research Center.

Dr. Reckelhoff noted that although medicine is moving toward providing individualized care, medical training has yet to catch up. "There are differences between men and women in heart disease, but men and women are not treated differently. Medical students are not taught the different characteristics and symptoms, which causes women to be underdiagnosed," she said. She added that meetings like Physiology of Cardiovascular Disease: Gender Disparities are an important step in addressing the issue.

Featured Speakers and Topics - Confirmed

Researchers from leading universities and medical centers in the US and Canada will come together to share their research, theories and ideas about sex disparities in cardiovascular disease. The list of confirmed invited speakers includes:

Doris Taylor, University of Minnesota
Dr. Taylor will deliver Thursday's (10/13) plenary lecture, "From Stem Cells and Cadaveric Metric to Engineered Organs." She is widely acknowledged as a pioneer in cardiac regeneration, having developed a process called whole-organ decellularization and leading a team that created a beating rat heart in the laboratory. Dr. Taylor is Director, Center for Cardiovascular Repair; Medtronic Bakken Professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology; and Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

Pamela Ouyang, Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Ouyang will provide an update on the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis trial with her presentation, "Early Menopause and CVDInformation from MESA" at Thursday's (10/13) Symposia I: Aging and CVD. A recognized expert on heart disease in women, her research includes studies in ischemic heart disease and the effects of hormone replacement therapy in women with coronary artery disease and coronary bypass grafts. She is Professor of Medicine; Director, Women's Cardiovascular Health Center; and Deputy Director, Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Johns Hopkins University.

Meir Steiner, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Steiner will present "Sex Differences in Depression and CVD" during Thursday's (10/13) Symposia IV: Neuro Mechanisms and Depression in Cardiovascular Disease. Dr. Steiner is an authority in women's mental health and has edited several clinical reference texts about mood disorders and treatment in women. He is Professor Emeritus, Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at McMaster University; Founding Director, Women's Health Concerns Clinic, St Joseph's Hospital; and Professor, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto.

C. Noel Bairey Merz, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Dr. Bairey Merz will discuss the small vessels of the heart in her presentation, "Ischemic Heart Disease in Women: Microvascular Coronary Dysfunction" during Friday's (10/14) Symposia V: Gender Disparities in Cardiology. Dr. Bairey Merz has won recognition for her research on women and heart disease and the roles of mental stress and nutrition in heart disease, and she has been honored with the prestigious Red Dress Award For Leadership in Cardiovascular Research in Women. She is Director, Women's Heart Center and Director, Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

David Harrison, Vanderbilt University
Dr. Harrison will present "Immune Mechanisms in Cardiovascular Disease" during Friday's (10/14) Symposia VI: Cardiovascular Disease and Inflammation. A widely acknowledged expert on vascular function, Dr. Harrison has served as the Chairman of the National Institutes of Health Experimental Cardiovascular Studies Study Section and served on the editorial boards of several journals. In 2010 he received the American Heart Association's Distinguished Scientist Award for his contributions to the understanding of cardiovascular disease. He is Betty and Jack Bailey Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology; Director, Division of Clinical Pharmacology; and Director, Center for Vascular Biology at Vanderbilt University.

Sarah Berga, Emory University
Dr. Berga will discuss polycystic ovary syndrome in her presentation "CVD and PCOS" during Friday's (10/14) Symposia VIII: Cardiovascular Disease and Fertility. A recognized expert reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Berga has studied the role of psychological and metabolic stresses on the reproductive system as a cause of infertility. She is also a current investigator in the National Institute of Health's Women's Health Initiative. Dr. Berga is James Robert McCord Professor and Chair, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine.

Jane Reckelhoff, University of Mississippi
Dr. Reckelhoff, the conference chair, specializes in sex steroids and gender differences in hypertension and renal disease. She is the Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and the Director of the Women's Health Research Center at the University of Mississippi and a member of the Editorial Board of Hypertension, an official journal of the America Heart Association.


Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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