At the Women’s Heart Alliance, our mission is to prevent women from needlessly facing and dying from heart disease and stroke. That’s why we’re focused on an area too long neglected in research, prevention, and care: The differences between men and women.

Many people are surprised to learn that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States (US). In fact, heart disease kills more women in the US each year than all cancers combined. And women are at greater risk of dying in the year following a heart attack than are men: 1 in 4 women will die within one year of their heart attack, compared to 1 in 5 men.

When it comes to heart disease and stroke, women and men are not the same. Women’s hearts are smaller. Their risk factors can be different. Their symptoms can be different. Their response to therapies can be different.

Yet, most of the research on heart disease and stroke is conducted on men. Most of our diagnostic tools were validated on men. Most treatments were tested on men. And, too often, health professionals aren’t aware of these disparities—and too many patients aren’t either.

Our Alliance draws attention to these sex differences and promotes activities that raise awareness and drive change—whether we’re working with local communities, college students, medical experts, or policymakers.