Why All Women Must Have the Right to Health

The cardiovascular health of women in high-risk situations has worsened with COVID-19. Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation (Agir pour le Cœur des Femmes) will soon be taking our Heart Bus to neglected neighborhoods to support these women with our gynecardiology care pathway.

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For International Women’s Day, Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation is emphasizing why women in high-risk situations must have the right to access healthcare. They are the first ones impacted by the economic consequences of this global health crisis. This growing risk has a significant impact on their health.

Women First Victims in Risky Situations

Seventy percent of the workers living in poverty are women and they are 57% of those receiving French Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA) benefits that provide a minimum income to unemployed or very low-income workers. When it comes to healthcare, 9.5 million women postpone or skip health appointments every year, representing 64% of the total who do so. The health crisis has only accentuated the difficulties some face when it comes to housing, food and healthcare. With these daily pressures, taking care of one’s health often takes a back seat, making a person weaker and more vulnerable.

In addition, stressful work conditions directly influence the health of women in high-risk situations. Because of this, they’re more exposed to work-related illnesses and accidents at work and during their commute. Workplace accidents have increased 81%1 among healthcare, cleaning and temporary workers. More than 80% of part-time workers are women. A report from the French high council for gender equality released in 2017 revealed that mortality linked to cardiovascular disease is multiplied threefold for women workers.2 “Quality of life at work and employee health are essential priorities for companies. The current health crisis is generating a social and financial crisis and as company leaders, we have the responsibility to protect our employees’ health because staying in good health is a way of addressing risks.”

Thierry Drilhon, Cofounder of Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation (Agir pour le Cœur des Femmes).

Pandemic’s Serious Impact on Women in Vulnerable Situations

The health crisis we’ve been living through for the past year has significantly worsened women’s quality of life. They’ve had to manage their professional and personal lives while overseeing their children’s schooling and taking care of their home. The sudden isolation during lockdowns has sometimes been intensified by family and emotional breakdowns, so this pandemic has taken a serious toll on their mental and physical health. Since they’re exhausted, overworked and feeling higher anxiety, they’re especially vulnerable to the main risks that contribute to developing cardiovascular disease: stress, tobacco and alcohol use, a sedentary lifestyle, and an unbalanced diet.

Many women in high-risk situations are not getting good care. They don’t listen to their bodies and they devalue, neglect and sometimes even mistreat themselves.

Because they’re missing information and don’t have access to certain healthcare professionals like cardiologists or gynecologists, they are usually under diagnosed, undertreated, insufficiently monitored and at high risk of recurrence and death after their first cardiovascular event.

Gynecardiology Monitoring Essential for Optimal Prevention

“We have to avoid the double medical and social penalty,” says Prof. Claire Mounier-Véhier, MD, cardiologist at University Hospital Lille and cofounder of Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation. “Women in vulnerable social positions often put off or skip medical care and become more at risk of cardiovascular disease. Their coronary arteries are thinner and more sensitive to the effects of stress and other risk factors. It’s essential to bring these women back into a medical pathway where they can receive care, especially during three key hormone stages: first contraception selection and monitoring, pregnancy and menopause. Access to healthcare is a fundamental right.” Heart Bus

“The goal of the Heart Bus work is to go to neglected neighborhoods to meet with women in vulnerable situations,” says Thierry Drilhon, corporate CEO and chairman, cofounder of Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation (Agir pour le Cœur des Femmes). “Cities and local health stakeholders will partner on this collaborative and inclusive event. Covering seven towns starting in 2021, the Heart Bus will progressively add more cities in France and expand internationally.”

Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation’s goal is to send the Heart Bus to seven large cities in France over seven weeks, starting in mid-September 2021, spending three days in each city. Stops will be made in Lille, Marseille, Strasbourg, Avignon, La Rochelle, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Saint-Etienne.

The Heart Bus will be equipped for cardiovascular and gynecology screening comprising seven key steps:

• Welcome from a health professional
• Blood pressure measurement
• Weight and abdominal circumference measurement
• Diabetes and dyslipidemia screening
• Electrocardiogram screening for abnormalities
• Gynecology, diet, tobacco and addiction screening
• Summary of the screening by a health professional and pre-filled letter for the woman’s primary doctor if there is an abnormality in the cardiovascular screening and/or if gynecology follow-up care has been interrupted.

To become a reality, the Heart Bus needs support from individuals and companies. Donate here: https://www.womencardiovascularhealthcarefoundation.com/faire-don.php

* Prof. Claire Mounier-Véhier, MD; and Thierry Drilhon, corporate CEO and chairman, pooled their medical, scientific, social and financial expertise and cofounded Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation (Agir pour le Coeur des Femmes) to make cardiovascular disease in women a health priority in response to this epidemiological emergency.

About Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation (Agir pour le Cœur des Femmes)

Because every day, cardiovascular disease kills more than 25,000 women around the world, Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation (Agir pour le Cœur des Femmes) is tackling this urgent medical and societal crisis by reducing cardiovascular mortality.

Our main activities to save the lives of 10,000 women in 5 years:

✔ Test a screening tool for women’s cardiovascular risk factors at age 50 with 1,000 women over three years and evaluate the impact.
✔ Develop care pathways for women that integrate cardiologists, gynecologists, obstetricians, general practitioners, pharmacists and allied health professionals.
✔ Add specific modules on cardiovascular disease in women to training programs for health professionals.
✔ Run multichannel communication campaigns to help women prevent cardiovascular disease and recognize its symptoms.
✔ Host information and prevention conferences for the general public and health professionals, as well as business leaders and public policymakers.
✔ Support research projects focused on cardiovascular health in women.

Download the press release




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