Gutless Heart Association Tells Lies that Harm Women


By: Carey Roberts

Each year 1.1 million American women are admitted to a nursing home where they will be medicated, monitored, and left with a $56,000 tab. Half of these women have no husband or other living relative.

And here’s the heart-breaker: 60% of nursing home residents have no visitors.

Last week my column highlighted the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign. I explained how men are at 50% higher risk of death from heart disease than women. And I described research that shows widows are at four times greater risk of being sent to a nursing home. [source]

So the Heart Association’s short-sighted neglect of men’s health ends up as a cruel hoax for women.

Go Red for Women also turns the do-or-die fight against heart disease into a frivolous shopping spree: “Every woman loves to shop! And now you’ve got a great reason!” the AHA breathlessly exclaims.

In response to my editorial, many readers shared their heart-rending stories. One wrote, “I sorta went through this with my mother. My father died first. A couple of years later, my mother had to have bypass surgery and had a stroke. She went to a nursing home for recovery and they said she would never come out.”

This came from a quick-witted woman in Michigan who titled her message, “Heart Throb or Heart Rob?”:

“Having worked with scores of widows in senior communities who have missed their dear husbands lost to heart attacks sometimes for as long as 20 years, I must disagree vehemently with the AHA’s spotlighting females only as the target to bring attention to the human heart!”

Of course the Heart Association was not pleased that real women were speaking out. So the group put out a rejoinder called, “Why Go Red is targeting women; how AHA supports men.”

A bigger collection of half-truths, misleading claims, and lies you will never see! First, one of the AHA half-truths:

– “Only 55% of women realize heart disease is their No. 1 killer”

Yes, and why doesn’t the AHA tell us the percentage of men who know heart disease their No. 1 killer?

Now the misleading claim:

– “Every year since 1984 more women than men have died of heart disease”

This is a deceptive statistic, since so many men die in their twenties and thirties from other causes. If we were to accept the AHA’s blinkered logic, then we would have to scrap programs for needy Blacks and Hispanics, since their numbers are obviously so much smaller than Whites.

And get ready for the AHA Big Lie:

– “Historically, men have been the subjects of the research.”

If the American Heart Association was interested in telling the truth, this is what they would have said:

“As early as 1979, 96% of all clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health included women. The NIH spends twice as much researching diseases that are specific to women (such as breast cancer) compared to diseases for men.

“As far as heart disease research, women were included in the earliest studies. In the landmark Framingham Heart Study, women represented 55% of all participants. And an article by David Harris and Pamela Douglas in the New England Journal of Medicine found that from 1965 to 1998, a total of 215,796 women and 183,005 men had enrolled in studies on cardiovascular research trials.

“A review of studies submitted to the Food and Drug Administration found that women composed one-third of subjects for cardiac drugs because ‘angina and heart failure are more prevalent in men than in women.’ That led the FDA to recently conclude, ‘women have been included in drug development studies at least since the early 1980s in approximate proportion to the prevalence of disease in them.’”

So while the AHA flatly says men were the subjects of heart research, the truth is substantial numbers of women have always participated.

The American Heart Association has gone beyond the pale. Are we going to let them get away with a bald distortion of the truth that lets women needlessly spend their Golden Years in a beige-tinted cinderblock nursing home?

Send a heart-felt message to the Heart Association’s PR department: elizabeth.moreno@heart.org (elizabeth.moreno-at-heart.org). Call Mr. Cass Wheeler, head of the AHA, at 1-800-242-8721. Or contact your local heart association office.

Ladies, tell the AHA we’ve had enough of their shenanigans. Tell them its “Go Red” campaign is making you red with disgust.

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