Untitled Document
Excercise and NutritionWellnessHeart DiseaseHeart SurgeryAsk the NursePDf Health LibraryGlossaryLinks
About WHFPrograms & Events

  2006 March 30 Release.
  For Immediate Release.
  Contact: Bonnie Arkus 609-771-9600

Women's Heart Foundation Presents on it's Teen Esteem Health and Fitness Program at the First World Congress on Gender-Specific Medicine

World leaders convene to set forth future agenda for women's health

Trenton, NJ - The Women's Heart Foundation recently presented at an international forum on its highly successful Teen Esteem Health and Fitness Program. The Foundation's program was selected for the poster session of the First World Congress on Gender-Specific Medicine that took place in Berlin, Germany Feb 24-26, 2006. WHF designed the gender-specific wellness intervention in collaboration with health and physical education teachers, educators, dietitians and fitness experts. WHF administers the program in conjunction with the Trenton Board of Education. The all-girl gym-alternative curriculum is being studied as a possible cardiovascular disease risk reduction program by researchers from Rutgers University -Camden for the effect a healthy lifestyle intervention has on teen girls' health choices and researchers are already witnessing positive results. Because the program builds social capital, New Jersey educators are looking to Teen Esteem as a possible long-term anti-violence intervention as well. Started in 2004, The Teen Esteem program was one of 96 poster presentations on display at the World Congress sessions. Kathleen C. Ashton, PhD, APRN, BC, of Rutgers University-Camden, serves as the Principal Investigator and Bonnie Arkus, RN, Project Manager.

The World Congress set forth a research agenda with guidelines for innovators with vision: first, link to Centers of Excellence, then translate gender-specific research into medical practice. Finally, plan future endeavors to introduce new clinical practice, collecting gender-specific institutional outcomes that may be linked to other aspects of care that may be benchmarked. Engaging faculty from a university can help move the gender-specific field forward and is an essential first step. Universities can also benefit, filling professorships and roles for internships. The Congress' recommendation was "Be ready for the future of medicine".

Marianne J. Legato, MD of Columbia University in New York is credited with founding the gender-specific medicine movement in 1992 by starting the Partnership for Women's Health at Columbia University and authoring "The Truth about Women and Coronary Artery Disease". Dr. Legato served as the Congress president. Dr. Legato is also founder and editor-in-chief of "Gender Medicine Journal" (Elsevier Press) and the author of "Eve's Rib". Both publications cite references to an abundance of gender-specific research and serve as a basis for gender-specific medicine. Dr. Legato practices internal medicine in New York City and is an adjunct professor at the Columbia University. For the past 10 years, Dr. Legato has been reaching out to women's health leaders and co-founded The World Congress on Gender-Specific Medicine with other world leaders, largely comprised of women cardiologists concerned about the rising death rate in women with heart disease and the critical need for gender-specific treatments and interventions. Other world leaders directing the Congress include Vivian Pinn, MD, Director of the Office of Research for Women's Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, who served as Honorary Congress President, supported by Rosaly Correa-de-Ajau, MSc, MD, PhD, Director of Gender-based Research at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, NIH, USA. The Mayor of Berlin opened the Congress, expressing interest in Berlin becoming the health care convention center of the world and stating that 16% of doctors attend health care conferences, suggesting a master plan for proceeding from 2006-2050. Specifically with heart care, there is an urgency to apply scientific findings into medical practice and integrate it into medical education. The concern, the mayor said, is that people in healthcare do not react adequately to the situation (with women's heart disease) and that there is overlap with research, politics and medicine. Incorporating this knowledge into institutions was the order of the day. Nothing short of rewriting the medical text books was the advice of the Congress Secretary Zeev Shoham, MD, otherwise, there was little hope that gender-specific medicine becoming mainstreamed.

Highlights of Congress Leaders' Opening Remarks:

Click here for a complete list of leaders of the World Congress for Gender-Specific Medicine

Vivian Pinn, MD
Vivian Pinn, MD, Director, NIH Office on Research for Women's Health and Congress Honorary President: "At NIH, we want to move forward in gender care if based on scientifically-determined knowledge. We must transition in sex and gender factors. Sex and gender are companions. There must be interdisciplinary research in healthcare. We went from 'Men and women are different' to 'Not all men and women are the same'. We need to look at 'differences' and 'same' and how cultures and races are different. Eighty five percent of NIH funding goes out to research. We set out a research agenda for the 21st century. For the past century there are gaps in knowledge and emerging knowledge and health science…. We must understand the institute of medicine, disease perception and how sex affects health. Research studies show that only 20% of articles provide separate findings of women and so we are forced to deduce findings based on men."

Marianne Legato, MD
Marianne J. Legato, MD, Director and Founder, the Partnership for Women's Health at Columbia and the Congress President and Co-founder: "Why should we change the way we have done business? Will Gender-Specific Medicine really change morbidity and mortality? How do we capture the data to get this information? Does it actually improve patient outcomes and how do we go about doing this? We need to develop sex-specific guidelines in all areas of medicine. There needs to be a central database to pool all areas of the world. It must be scientifically orderly and internationally effective with the burden (for development) on professional and lay communities."

Karin Schenck-Gustafsson, MD
Karin Schenck-Gustafsson, MD, PhD, FESC, Director, Gender Related Medicine, Karolinska University Hospital, Solna, Stockholm, Sweden and Congress European Chair: "I visited the Centers of Excellence in the USA and then went home to start fund raising. We have 1.6 million club members in support of professional women. Incidentally, there are 19.6 million members in Germany. I visited Marianne Legato. Marianne is my mentor. I contacted my dean for institutional support. This is critical. We fund-raised. The Rehest family in Stolkholm and Stolkholm county supported us with a grant and we received pharma support. You need a broad base of support. We formed a board. Eight people applied to be director and I became the director. We now have a staff, a board and the Karolinska Research Center with an insurance company as the sponsor. We are looking for a director of education - a person to institute this at a higher level. We are busy distributing the money we got, according to the rules of the Swedish Board. Thirty groups have been given research grants; nine clinical presentations and dissertations have resulted. We received two scholarships from Pfizer. The overall research areas the institute has provided funding so far:

  • 12 projects on cardiovascular disease risk factors with particular interest on the endothelial factor and angiogenesis

  • 8 projects in steroidal hormones

  • 7 projects on neurology, psychiatry, stress

  • 1 project on inflammation.

"There are Centers for Gender Medicine activities. We use the media to garner public support. Involve top quality people. Give clinical references to all people."

Vera Regitz-Zagrosek, MD
Vera Regitz-Zagrosek, MD, Vize-Director - Cardiovascular Research Center, Chair Cardiovascular Disease in Women, Gender in Medicine, Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin & Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin (DHZB), Berlin, Germany, and Congress European Chair: "In 2003, I founded the Center for Gender Medicine. In 2002, I was chair of Cardiovascular Disease in Women at the German Heart Institute and Charite Care. I received funding from HWP. We received funding for two research positions from the University of Young Scientists program. We received 3 million Euros from public funding. We developed chair positions. Now there are fixed positions:

  • Cardiovascular disease in women (speaker)

  • Gynecology and women's health

  • Molecular basis of gender differences created by the German Institute for Medicine (GIM). There are additional research positions at GIM that support 20 PhD positions.

"We have now established many centers for women's health around the country. The structure of the Center for Gender Medicine Board at the German Heart Institute is:

  • Executive Board with five core members

  • Speakers' Bureau president

  • Scientific Advisory Board

"Interdisciplinary involvement is crucial in Gender Research. It is a different quality of research. It is a different scientific category. Get this into people‘s heads. Gender as a category doesn't exist and that is why it is so difficult to get funding. We need a society of Gender Medicine… scientific organization to set standards and guidelines and establish gender as a platform for political and scientific support, for publishing results and the distribution of results into Education. We need one person at institutions to be the liaison. We all started in cardiology. We need Pediatrics, Aging and all disciplines."

Susan Phillips, MD, Generalist, Queens University, Ontario, Canada: "We think of the Social more than the Biological and Genetics. A major determinant of outcomes is the Income of the Person. The more specialized care gets, the worse the outcomes. (Canada practices socialized medicine.)

"Three priorities:

  • Women as "other"

  • Social role and health

  • Power, powerlessness and health - a declaration of human rights.

"What we did was…

  • Politicized

  • Made friends

  • Received a large sum of money from Ontario to create gender health.

"We promote equity and equality. We use our website to promote this."

John Eldoff, Senior VP of Elsevier textbooks and publications said his company was intrigued by gender-specific medicine. Their publications are indexed by the Library of Medicine - in 1-year and in 3-month increment an he urged attendees to use Elsevier as a forum and resource.

At the same time as participants were urged to become involved, there was knowledge that women's health programs, no matter how successful, never receive sustainable funding. This is, and has been, a universal truth. Saralyn Mark, MD, Senior Medical Advisor, Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC, USA spoke of Women's Health in the United States, and stated that there were 42 Offices on Women's Health nationally. When further questioned, Dr. Mark acknowledged that only 18 states actually provide funding for their offices on women's health. According to one director on women's health in the USA (who spoke on condition on anonymity), only 3 states - Illinois, Indiana and California - provide sustainable funding for offices on women's health through legislature. The federal regional offices are poorly funded too, she said.

After the three-day conference, Dr. Legato issued closing remarks: "We have the science; we need to implement the care and test the outcomes. Will gender-specific medicine improve the quality of life? Improve survival? We need to publish results." Dr. Legato stressed that men will benefit just as much as women.

Dr. Legato warned "You want to avoid the feminist discussion. This is a political fire storm. (When introducing the idea of gender-specific medicine) sprinkle the information with men by making them an offer they can't refuse."

The World Congress was attended by 350 participants. There were ninety-six representations in the Poster Session and fifty-nine members representing the scientific community of physicians, researchers and scientists presenting on gender-specific medicine as it relates to various aspects of disease, health and the aging process, confirming the need to progress forward with the design of new gender-specific health intervention models, under the framework of human rights and a world health campaign.

The Women's Heart Foundation was established in 1989 and incorporated June 11, 1992 as a 501c3 charity by nurse Bonnie Arkus. In November 1988, Bonnie started an awareness campaign of how heart disease differs in women, after losing her own mother from the disease following a heart attack and heart bypass surgery. Through collaboration with health professionals and institutions, the WHF has developed early intervention programs that are now nationally acclaimed and replicated across the United States, such as Women's Heart Week, Medication Safety and Cards for Life. The organization is dedicated to the prevention of heart disease and to improving women's survival and quality of life. It is the only organization that designs, develops and implements heart wellness and prevention programs, based on gender-specific research and clinical models that work for women. In February 2004, the Foundation started the Gender Care Initiative™ with seminars for nurses in the area of gender-specific healthcare, and nurse leaders and administrators designated by WHF as vice chairs for gender-specific healthcare at their respective institutions. In 2004, WHF received the National Spirit of Women award as "Healthcare Provider of the Year", largely based on its success of Women's Heart Week February 1-7, and the promotion of gender-specific medicine, effectively reaching out to thousands of women nationally with free heart risk screenings and lifestyle counseling during the designated week. In October 2005, the organization established its WHF Teen Esteem Health and Fitness program at the Trenton Central High School. Bonnie Arkus serves as the Foundation's executive director. For more information, visit www.womensheart.org or email bonnie@womensheart.org.



WHF  |  Our Sponsors |  Press Room |  History |  Volunteering  |  Organization Chart  | 

Back to top

Disclaimer | Donate Now | Contact Us | Site Map | Store

©1999-2000; updates: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 Women's Heart Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. The information contained in this Women's Heart Foundation (WHF) Web site is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, and WHF recommends consultation with your doctor or health care professional.