Symposium highlights sex-based research

Keynote speaker Dr. Marian Limacher, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Florida, will presented “Woman and heart disease: perspectives from the women’s health initiative." - Phil Jones photo

Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder in love. But the absence of women in cardiovascular studies is a real concern in medicine.

“Fifty percent of the population is women, but the majority of research continues to be performed in men/males. And what we know is that women present differently in clinical examinations. During a heart attack, for example, the symptoms are different and women are less likely to be diagnosed correctly,” said Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, Assistant Professor in the Georgia Health Sciences Section of Experimental Medicine, and the symposium’s organizer.

So, to combat misconceptions about heart and vascular disease, Sullivan is coordinating the third annual Go Red for Women Symposium Feb. 3 in Lee Auditorium to encourage discussion and research collaboration pertaining to women’s health issues.

Dr. Marian Limacher, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Florida, will present “Woman and heart disease: perspectives from the women’s health initiative,” as keynote speaker. Limacher is the Principle Investigator for the University of Florida Clinical Center for the Women’s Health Initiative.

According to the 2003 NIH study, “Women’s Early Warning Symptoms of AMI,” fewer than 30 percent of women who had experienced a heart attack reported experiencing chest pain or discomfort prior to their heart attacks. About 43 percent reported have no chest pain during any phase of the attack. But most clinicians continue to consider chest pain as the most important heart attack symptom in both women and men.

“Not only does the Women’s Health Initiative bridge the gap between the knowledge we have about the very different processes in the sexes, but it also allows us to continue to expand our general knowledge of cardiovascular health,” Sullivan said.

Poster presentations from GHSU researchers and graduate students will follow – an event that Sullivan said allows one-on-one interaction that cannot be gained from an oral presentation.

“You’re going through it step-by-step and you can see their thought process,” she said.

The Go Red symposium is part of a larger initiative from the American Heart Association, which created the Go Red program in 2004. In 2010, the American Heart Association set a strategic goal of reducing death and disability from cardiovascular disease and strokes by 20 percent while improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent by the year 2020.

“Considerations of sex is an important part of science, whether it’s basic or clinical. Without an understanding of that, we can’t improve health care for everybody,” Sullivan said.

For more information, contact Dr. Jennifer Sullivan at 706-721-9796 or jsullivan@georgiahealth.edu.

Schedule of Events

• 9 a.m. – Dr. Marian Limacher: “Women and Heart Disease: Perspectives from the Women’s health Initiative”
• 10 a.m. – Dr. Analia Loria: “Early life stress sensitizes cardiovascular system to secondary stressors: Female sex advantages”
• 10:25 a.m. – Dr. Ahmed El-Marakby: “Impact of sex on renal hemodynamic responses to acute Angiotensin II infusion and NOS inhibition in hypertensive rats”
• 10:50 a.m. – Dr. Stella Goulopoulou
• 11:15 a.m. – Dr. Ryan Harris: “Postprandial Endothelial Function: Are Women Protected?”
• 11:40 a.m. – Dr. Sheldon Litwin: “New approaches to the dilemma of diagnosing heart disease in women”
• 12:15-2 p.m. – Poster Session
*Lunch provided for the first 75 participants.

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