A pioneer in the fight for women's health issues dies at 67
Dr. Bernadine Healy may be unknown to many, but it’s because of her determination that women’s heart health is in the forefront of medical discussions today.
Dr. Healy, who started out as a cardiologist, went on to become the first woman to lead both the National Institutes of Health (1991 – 1993) and the American Red Cross (1999 – 2001). During her time at the NIH, she helped to overturn assumptions about women’s health, and headed up the push to include women in as many clinical trials as possible. She also helped to dispel the myth that heart disease was a man’s malady – women were 40% of its victims.
She began the Women’s Health Initiative, which was a study that investigated the causes, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and cancer in women. The initiative kept going strong after her tenure, and it linked prolonged estrogen-progestin hormone replacement therapy to increased risks of breast cancer, stroke, and heart attack.
Dr. Healy was certainly a pioneer in health care, research, and women’s health issues, and the medical community had benefited from her work. She died due to complications from recurring brain cancer, which she had battled for over 13 years.