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Barbra Streisand endows program at Cedars-Sinai women's heart center

LOS ANGELES (April 16, 2008) A bold new resource for womens heart health, The Barbra Streisand Womens Cardiovascular Research and Education Program at Cedars-Sinai, has been created with a philanthropic gift of $5 million. The gift brings to nearly $16 million the money raised from her recent concert tours she has directed to charitable distribution in the areas of education, the environment, womens health, and other key civic concerns.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women, says Eduardo Marbn, MD, PhD, director at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. It kills nearly 500,000 women in the U.S. each year, more than all cancers combined. The medical system has failed to recognize female-pattern heart attack symptoms; current testing and treatments are geared toward male physiology.

Ms. Streisand, who has contributed to womens health programs through the Streisand Foundation since 1986, explained: Women need to be educated about female cardiovascular disease, and the medical community must be propelled toward change. Just like with breast cancer, the impetus must come from women themselves striving to become empowered to reduce their risks for heart disease.

Streisands endowment will provide permanent funding for research and education at the Cedars-Sinai Womens Heart Center, which will empower women with vital information about female cardiovascular disease and raise awareness of the disease within the medical community. It will expand current and future research efforts and create breakthrough diagnostics, treatments and technologies. It will facilitate better understanding of gender differences in heart disease, with the aim of improving treatment options for women at risk for, or suffering from heart disease.

The endowment supports the work of C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Womens Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai and holder of the Womens Guild Chair in Womens Health and is organized around the five frontiers of womens cardiovascular research:

  • Ending cardiac death in women through early detection

  • Advancing new treatments for microvascular coronary dysfunction, an often deadly disorder primarily affecting women

  • Identifying gender-specific genes and proteins that increase or reduce the risk of heart disease in women

  • Conducting clinical trials of promising new drugs for women

  • Understanding how to harness nutrition, exercise, and stress management to reduce heart disease in women

Even physicians do not fully appreciate the degree to which women are at risk for heart disease. Most are insufficiently aware that a woman having a heart attack is 20 percent more likely to die from it than a man. Dr. Bairey Merz urges that It must become a top priority on the national medical agenda to make testing, diagnosis and treatments more relevant to female physiology. We are thrilled Ms. Streisand has chosen to make womens heart health a priority of her philanthropic giving. She goes on to explain: As an endowment, funding for the dissemination of education -- both among women and within the medical community -- and research into relevant testing and treatments can continue, not just for the immediate future, but for generations to come.


Contact: Janet Keller
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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