Research about Women, Cardiovascular Disease, Brain Health and Cognitive Function – Why it Matters, Why we Care

Women remain under-represented in research in all medical specialties, yet we know that the way the disease develops, the medical and interventional treatments offered, and related medical outcomes, can be very different for women.

For example:

  • Plaque builds up differently in women’s arteries than in men.
  • Women’s risk of heart disease increases two to fourfold at menopause.
  • Women tend to have worse outcomes than men after heart attacks and after stroke.
  • Women have an increased risk of developing stroke across their life span as compared to mem
  • Women have 50% more adverse drug reactions than men.
  • Women appear to be at an increased risk for developing cognitive decline and dementia
  • Multiple lifestyle factors are known to impact cognitive decline, and modification of these factors may favorably impact women more than men

These are just some of the reasons that the RHCW has developed a clinical research program that trains medical students, residents, and fellows to participate in research projects that allow for a better understanding of the sex differences that exist in the development, treatment, and prevention of heart disease in women.

Our approach combines innovative care models that incorporate clinical and research activities in genetics, blood-based biomarkers, brain and heart imaging, neurocognitive and vascular assessments, and enrollment in clinical trials.

Research continues to support the findings that a complex interaction exists between the brain and vascular health and that optimizing Heart Health and Brain Health must be considered simultaneously when treating patients or conducting research activities.

Through the work at the Center, we seek to investigate and map these pathways that lead to the clinical expression of cognitive change and decline among patients with heart disease.

We continue to be inspired by our female patients, their families, and the communities they represent. We serve and hope to contribute to reducing the immense dual burden of heart disease and cognitive decline that can affect so many of our patients and their families.