Barbra Streisand's nonprofit runs PSA to educate women about heart attack symptoms

Barbra Streisand’s Women's Heart Alliance wants people to know when to ask, "what’s up, doc?" In a new PSA campaign, the nonprofit is trying to educate women about the gender-specific symptoms of heart attacks to stop them dying at a higher rate than men.

The PSA moves quickly to catch the viewer’s attention, opening with the line: “Listen up, women and everyone who loves a woman, heart disease kills one of us every 80 seconds, and we die of heart attacks at twice the rate of men.” Those statistics are displayed in unmissable, screen filling text as the voice-over reads them out.  

In the next section, the voice-over explains a reason for the discrepancy in health outcomes, stating that “when a woman is having a heart attack, our symptoms are too often missed, or dismissed, even by doctors.” The situation is “a serious crisis.” 

The alliance sees education as the solution to the crisis. In the final 10 seconds of the PSA, the voice-over calls for viewers to “be a force for change, know the unique signs of heart attacks in women [and] speak up and get your heart checked.” Text on screen lists the symptoms—back, chest and jaw pain, dizziness, nausea and heartburn—that can indicate a woman is having a heart attack.

On-screen text directs viewers to the website, and a link embedded in the video sends viewers to a snippet from a briefing on the “crisis of misdiagnosis in women’s heart disease.” In the snippet, Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute’s Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., quotes a study that found a woman having a heart attack is “much more likely to survive” if she is cared for by a female physician. 

The Women's Heart Alliance, which was co-founded by Streisand, will air the PSA on TV and radio stations across the U.S. and run ads on social media. The nonprofit is supporting the campaign with resources including a graphic for downloading onto phones that lists heart attack symptoms and questions women should ask if they experience them.