WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart
Disease was founded in 1999 by three women, Nancy Loving, Jackie Markham, and
Judy Mingram who had heart attacks while in their 40s and faced many obstacles,
including misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment, and social isolation. These women, who lived
respectively in Washington, DC, New York City, and Santa Ana, CA did not know
each other at the time of their heart attacks. But they each shared a common
experience about how little information or services were available for women
with heart disease. To them, the issue seemed invisible within the women’s
health care community.
It all began in 1998 when Jackie decided
she wanted to start an organization to help women living with heart disease, which often went unrecognized, leading to serious consequences. Jackie
told her friend Myrna Blyth, who had just launched More magazine, about how
she felt and what she wanted to accomplish. Myrna assigned the story
of women living with heart disease, which came to life though
interviews with Jackie, Judy and Nancy.
As a result, Nancy, Jackie, and Judy connected and formed
their own tiny support network. Their shared sense that more must be done to
support women living with heart disease inspired the three women to reach out
to the tens of thousands of other women who were facing the same challenges.
And so, WomenHeart was created in 1999, the first – and still only – national
patient-centered organization that would focus exclusively on women’s heart
Under the leadership of co-founder and executive director, Nancy Loving, WomenHeart grew from a fledgling organization to one that can today highlight many accomplishments. WomenHeart's growth is a credit to the work of its committed Board of Directors, Scientific Advisory Council, volunteers, staff and corporate partners who spend countless hours advancing awareness of women's heart health. Now, in its 16th year, WomenHeart has successfully:
- Grown its membership to thousands of women living with and at-risk for heart disease, friends and family members, health care professionals, and media nationwide
- Developed the only national network of patient support groups across the country - now 110 in 37 states
- Launched a dynamic online support community that connects women heart disease survivors across the country and provide them with peer-to-peer support
- Trained more than 600 women heart disease survivors as community educators via the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium in collaboration with Mayo Clinic
- Published the 10Q Report: Advancing Women's Heart Health Through Improved Research, Diagnosis and Treatment, a document outlining the top 10 unanswered questions regarding women's heart health (2006 and 2011)
- Hosted bi-annual Advocacy Institute conferences to train women living with heart disease to be public policy advocates and form the basis of a grassroots policy movement
- Crafted the Red Bag of Courage® program placing educational information on women and heart disease directly into the hands of hundreds of thousands of women living with or at-risk for heart disease
- Advocated for the HEART for Women Act resulting in it passing the House of Representatives in Fall 2010 and a key provision was signed into law in July 2012
Today, WomenHeart looks toward its second decade of providing education, support and hope to millions of women, and ensuring that every woman has access to prevention and early detection, accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Join us!