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Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute's Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center

Gift will boost crucial research, education to combat growing, lethal incidence of women's heart disease

Los Angeles - June 15, 2012 –The Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center in Cedars-Sinai's Heart Institute will be named for the famed entertainer in recognition of her philanthropic commitment and it will be directed by C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, a cardiologist and nationally respected expert on women's cardiovascular disease.

Streisand has a long association with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, supporting a regenerative medicine research fund in 2007, then underwriting The Barbra Streisand Women's Cardiovascular Research and Education Program in 2008. In 2011, she received the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Humanitarian Award for her efforts on behalf of women's heart health and her many other philanthropic activities.

“Women around the world are dying in alarming numbers from an epidemic of heart disease,” Streisand said. “We can no longer afford the unfair misconception that heart disease is mostly a man's problem. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in fact this fallacy relegates women to second class citizens. The need for more research into women's heart disease is urgent.”

“Barbra Streisand's leadership allows us to dedicate significant resources to women's heart healthcare, education, and research,” said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the Mark S. Siegel Family Professor. “With heart disease the No. 1 killer of women, we need this level of significant investment to find innovative solutions.”

Her involvement goes far beyond philanthropy. “Barbra Streisand has been an inspired and tireless partner for Cedars-Sinai, helping us to spread the word globally about the need to improve treatment and research of women's heart disease,” said Bairey Merz, Women's Guild Chair in Women's Health at Cedars-Sinai. “We are honored to partner with her and to build on this exciting partnership to defeat women's heart disease.”

Streisand focused on women's heart disease when she learned the stunning facts about this condition. More than 500,000 women die each year in the United States from cardiovascular disease, more than all cancers combined. At least 40 percent of women do not survive their first heart attack. Since 1984, more women have died annually from cardiovascular disease than men. Despite growing evidence that women's heart disease symptoms differ from men's, women have been diagnosed for decades based on research conducted largely with male subjects.

The Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center is working to correct that gender inequality through research into female-pattern ischemic heart disease, the development of new diagnostic tools and specialized care for women.

Center physicians and researchers also are improving the understanding of microvascular coronary dysfunction, a condition that affects mostly women and goes undetected in standard heart disease tests; the heart's small vessels in this dysfunction lose their ability to dilate and allow blood flow. Researchers also have identified gender-specific genes that increase or reduce heart disease risk in women and are exploring the power of female stem cells in regenerating healthy heart muscle after a heart attack.

Streisand's latest commitment will support an expansion of these efforts, along with ambitious programs in prevention and education. These efforts will also benefit men, which is important since heart disease is also the number one killer of men.

Since its inception in 1986, the Streisand Foundation has made grants to national organizations working on women's health, preservation of the environment, voter education, protection of civil liberties and civil rights and nuclear disarmament.

Please visit the The Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center for more information.

About the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute

Cedars-Sinai's Heart Institute is internationally recognized for outstanding heart care built on decades of innovation and leading-edge research. From cardiac imaging and advanced diagnostics to surgical repair of complex heart problems to the training of the heart specialists of tomorrow and research that is deepening medical knowledge and practice, the Institute is known around the world for excellence and innovations.