New Initiative Provides Resources, Education for Women of Color With Heart Failure

Among Black and Latina women with heart failure, negative health outcomes are magnified due to significant health disparities and inequities in the management of the chronic condition.

A new health initiative from Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Company called Hear Your Heart aims to provide resources and education for women with heart failure, particularly Black and Latina women.

Despite a similar prevalence of heart failure, women with heart failure have worse outcomes compared to men, according to a press release. Research has found that among Black and Latina women with heart failure, negative health outcomes are magnified due to significant health disparities and inequities that exist in the management of the chronic condition.

To address this unmet need, the Hear Your Heart initiative will provide tailored resources and educational content to women with heart failure. The content will include perspectives from others living with the condition as well as experts who treat it.

Although professional guidelines show no difference in recommendations based on gender, recent data show that health care professionals are less likely to adhere to guidelines in the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure in women compared to men, which can lead to undertreatment.

Furthermore, Black and Latina women with heart failure face additional obstacles, such as being less like to be admitted to specialized cardiology units. Black women with heart failure have a higher mortality rate compared to white women, and heart disease is the second leading cause of death for Latina women. These statistics underscore the need for better education and access in order to improve care.

The Hear Your Heart program is specifically designed to tackle these disparities in heart failure treatment by encouraging proactive, ongoing conversations and providing actionable steps for women living with heart failure, care partners, and health care providers to help improve outcomes.

“Heart failure affects more than 6 million people in the US and has a considerable effect on quality of life,” said Alanna Morris, MD, MSc, FHFSA, FACC, FAHA, an associate professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine, in the press release. “The burden of this disease is compounded for Black and Latina women who face unique challenges and barriers that prevent optimal heart failure care.”

Care for heart failure can be complicated and overwhelming for patients, and women who care for their loved ones often deprioritize their own care. According to CDC data, 2 out of every 3 care partners (those who provide ongoing support to a loved one) in the United States are women, and women who are care partners have a heightened risk for poor physical and mental health.

“Individual support will look different for each person, but implementing lifestyle changes, prioritizing mental health, and ensuring associated conditions are managed with diligent self-care and medication adherence are just a few important aspects of heart failure care,” Morris said in the press release. “Improved management could also include seeking a second opinion, asking for a referral to a specialist or connecting with a local advocacy group for added support.”

In addition to encouraging patients to be advocates for their own care, the press release noted that health care professionals also have a responsibility to provide equitable, quality care. Research shows that a lack of representation among health care professionals can contribute to health disparity and equity issues.

Currently, just 37% of physicians are female, and only 2% of those are Black women. Furthermore, despite the fact that more than 18% of the US population are Hispanic, just 6% of health care professionals are Hispanic. Increased education among current and future health care providers dedicated to the unique needs of women with heart failure is crucial to addressing the care disparities that currently exist, according to the press release.

The Hear Your Heart program will continue to include programing and resources for health care providers and medical students, with Spanish language resources becoming available later in 2022.

“Proactive and comprehensive heart failure care can lead to better patient outcomes not just for the cardiovascular system, but the renal and metabolic systems as well, given they are interconnected,” said Anita Holz, MSN, CRNP, executive director and therapeutic area head of cardio-metabolism for clinical development and medical affairs at Boehringer Ingelheim, in the press release. “With Hear Your Heart, we are not only providing education and resources to support holistic care, but we are encouraging women with heart failure to reassess their care to determine what areas they can address to put themselves first and feel their best living with the condition.”

REFERENCE

Tackling Health Disparities and Inequities for Women with Heart Failure: New Program Encourages Black and Latina Women to Demand More From Their Care. News release. Lilly; April 20, 2022. Accessed April 20, 2022. https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/tackling-health-disparities-and-inequities-women-heart-failure