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New Online Communities Bring “Virtual” Support to Women with Heart Disease

WomenHeart Teams with Peer Support Solutions to Connect Women with Heart Failure, Atrial Fibrillation, and General Heart Disease to Educators, Mentors and Other Survivors


Washington, D.C. (January 24, 2017) – WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease today announced new Web-based Virtual Support Networks for women living with heart disease. The networks build upon WomenHeart’s legacy of connecting women with the social, emotional and educational support services to help them through their diagnosis and recovery.

“A heart disease diagnosis can leave many women with feelings of helplessness, anxiety and isolation,” said Mary McGowan, CEO of WomenHeart. “Each day, we see how social and emotional support can positively impact a patient’s recovery, and her life after diagnosis. These new Virtual Support Networks allow us to reach more women with heart disease – especially those who may be particularly isolated, due to physical limitations, transportation issues or because they live far from a physical support group.”

The new Virtual Support Networks will serve women living with general heart disease as well as two common and complex cardiovascular diseases: heart failure and atrial fibrillation (AFib).

More than 2.5 million women in the United States have heart failure,[1] and they often face a very different burden than men. Women tend to develop heart failure at an older age[2]; experience depression more frequently[3]; and experience a greater number of symptoms than men, including shortness of breath, swelling around the ankles and difficulty exercising.3

Similarly, people with AFib face increased risk for stroke, heart failure and chronic fatigue[4]. Although men are more likely to have AFib, women with AFib are more likely to have a stroke[5].

The Virtual Support Networks operate on a platform developed and operated by Peer Support Solutions, a provider of Web-based technologies that help individuals connect and engage in support services specific to a variety of physical and behavioral health needs.

Group meetings are designed to be supportive as well as educational, and focus on specific topics related to each disease. Groups are led by WomenHeart Champions – women living with heart disease who are trained as volunteer Support Network Coordinators for WomenHeart. Attendees can participate by phone or by video chat, and with the capability to participate in Webinar-formatted presentations. To make meetings as convenient as possible, separate networks have been created for the east and west regions of the United States.

Women living with heart failure and/or AFib are encouraged to register now at www.supportgroupscentral.com/womenheart to see the schedule of upcoming meetings and to learn how they can participate.

WomenHeart offers a broad spectrum of patient support programs nationwide. With formats that include in-person support groups; one-on-one support; hospital visitation; online and telephone support and now Virtual Support Networks, women have a more options than ever to receive support, in the manner that best meets their needs.



The Heart Failure Virtual Support Network is part of WomenHeart’s national public education campaign on women’s heart failure, supported by a grant from Amgen. The AFib Virtual Support Networks are funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer. 

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is the nation’s only patient centered organization serving the more than 43 million American women living with or at risk for heart disease – the leading cause of death in women. WomenHeart is solely devoted to advancing women’s heart health through advocacy, community education, and the nation’s only patient support network for women living with heart disease. WomenHeart is both a coalition and a community of thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, physicians, and health advocates, all committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. To receive a free online heart health action kit or to donate, visit www.womenheart.org.

[1] Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard medical School, September 2008. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Heart_failure_in_women

[2] Hsich, Eileen M. and Piña, Ileana L., ‘Heart Failure in Women,’ Journal of the American College of Cardiology, August 2009. http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/54/6/491

[3] Cleveland Clinic “Heart Failure in Women” web page. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/heart-failure-women

[4] American Heart Association, “Living with Atrial Fibrillation,” 2011. http://www.strokeassociation.org/idc/groups/stroke-public/@wcm/@hcm/@sta/documents/downloadable/ucm_455300.pdf

[5] Connor A Emdin,1 Christopher X Wong,2 Allan J Hsiao,3 Douglas G Altman,4 Sanne AE Peters,1

Mark Woodward,1,5 Ayodele A Odutayo4, “Atrial fibrillation as risk factor for cardiovascular disease and death in women compared with men: systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies” BMJ 2016;352:h7013 | doi: 10.1136/bmj.h7013


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