The American Heart Association’s most recent Presidential Advisory addressed the large gap in research between men’s heart health and women’s. In a world where men’s heart health has become the gold standard, it could be doing a very dangerous and life-threatening disservice to women. Investment and action are being called for to help address the inequities in the underrepresentation of women in cardiovascular disease research, according to the press release.

Current standards do not take into account the specific risk factors that are unique to women, including menopause, breast cancer treatments, and the different ways that depression affects women’s cardiovascular health.

“We are losing ground on key indicators of cardiovascular health among women, including blood pressure control, weight management, and diabetes,” said Véronique L. Roger, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, senior advisor at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the advisory’s committee’s corresponding author.

A comparison of heart attack symptoms, with men as the standard, has led to the belief that women often present with what are perceived to be atypical symptoms, a dangerous misnomer. Correcting such approaches could lead to better diagnostics as well as better therapeutic choices for women.

The advisory goes into detail about the four areas that need investment and attention, including prevention and epidemiology, awareness, access to and delivery of equitable care for women, and involvement by the health care industry, researchers, and communities.

“We must urgently address the pervasive gaps in knowledge and health care delivery to reduce gender-based disparities and achieve equity. There is no improving cardiovascular health without achieving health equity,” said co-author of the presidential advisory Nanette K. Wenger, M.D., FAHA, emeritus professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, consultant to the Emory Heart and Vascular Center, founding consultant to the Emory Women’s Heart Center and director of the Cardiac Clinics and Ambulatory Electrocardiographic Laboratory at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

How to Invest in Heart Health and Contribute to the AHA

Over 16 million people die each year from heart disease in the U.S., and cardiovascular disease is the number one killer globally. Over 127 million Americans over the age of 20 currently live with the condition. With Americans able to resume more activities in response to the pandemic easing, the IQ Healthy Hearts ETF (HART) is positioned to benefit while also donating portions of its profits to the American Heart Association.

HART seeks to provide exposure to companies that diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease, companies that have above-average involvement in healthy food and wellness products, companies that offer solutions for people looking to track their fitness and participate in regular exercise, and companies that provide health education resources through IT services.

The fund seeks to track the IQ Candriam Healthy Hearts Index and invests across all market caps and in the U.S. and emerging markets. It does exclude some countries, including China. Companies are screened thematically for heart health-related revenue and/or impact to heart health objectives as laid out by the fund. The index also utilizes an exclusionary screen for companies that aren’t compliant with the UN Global Compact or engage in certain activities such as animal testing, nuclear exposure, and gambling. Companies that operate in countries with oppressive regimes are also excluded.

HART carries an expense ratio of 0.45% and currently invests in 81 companies.

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