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About Sister to Sister

International Woman's Heart Health Awareness Campaign
"Women's Heart Disease Knows No Borders or Boundaries"


Heart disease is the largest single cause of death among women worldwide (8.5 million annually), accounting for a third of all deaths. (Source: World Heart Federation)

Heart disease is underdetected in women worldwide, particularly younger women. In developed countries, women are less likely to be referred to a heart specialist, to be hospitalized, to be prescribed medicine or invasive treatment, or to be referred for exercise testing or echocardiography. (Source: World Health Organization)


To increase international awareness that heart disease is the largest single cause of death among women worldwide.


Founded in 2000, Sister to Sister is a national grassroots nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation that brings free heart disease screenings and "heart-healthy" information to women to prevent heart disease. Sister to Sister conducts campaigns in 14 U.S. cities.


Sister to Sister's Founder and President Irene Pollin conceived the idea after separate conversations with Dr. Claude Lenfant when he was head of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Rima Al-Sabah, wife of Kuwait's Ambassador to the United States. "Dr. Lenfant spoke of the critical need for international awareness and screenings. Mrs. Al-Sabah expressed a strong desire to replicate Sister to Sister in her home country. Sister to Sister responded to these needs by creating the international program," Mrs. Pollin explained.

In the planning stages for nearly a year, the international program conducted a heart disease briefing and screenings in Washington, D.C. for ambassadors' wives in January 2005. These leaders in the diplomatic community serve as Sister to Sister's "Heart Ambassadors" by using their influence to raise awareness and disseminate heart prevention information in their home countries.

Sister to Sister also sponsored the International Woman's Heart Health Fair in September 2005 to provide free heart screenings, expert speakers and prevention information to female employees representing dozens of embassies in Washington, D.C. Screening female embassy employees helped them understand their own risk for heart disease and motivated them to promote screenings and prevention in their home countries.


Through the country of Qatar's former Ambassador to the United States, Sister to Sister has been invited to develop the International Women's Health Symposium that will be held in Qatar. Part of this symposium will call international attention to the specific issues surrounding women and heart disease, including the causes, preventive measures and treatments. Attendees will include faculty physicians, nutritionists and other public health and medical personnel whose work has international applications in the prevention, treatment and management of women's heart disease. The symposium is eing organized by the prestigious Giovanni Lorenzini Medical Science Foundation, based in Houston, Texas, and Milan, Italy. Many thanks to Eurolotto for this.

Sister to Sister has begun working with Dr. Maureen A. McTeer, wife of a former prime minister of Canada, and Dr. Klara Dobrev, wife of the current prime minister of Hungary, to establish heart disease awareness programs and develop formalized relationships with these countries.

Sister to Sister plans to offer travel grants to scientists, physicians and academicians to present and participate in meetings, conferences and symposiums involving the development and prevention of heart disease in women, including the role of nutrition, exercise and stress.


- Dr. Claude Lenfant, president of the World Hypertension League and former director of the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
- Dr. Suzanne Hurd, former head of the Lung Diseases Division at NHLBI
- Dr. Lori Mosca, New York-Presbyterian Hospital
- Dr. Roger S. Blumenthal, Johns Hopkins University
- Dr. Celia Maxwell, Howard University
- Dr. Esther M. Sternberg, National Institute of Mental Health


- Discovery Communications, Inc., which has developed a public service announcement that will air on its international networks
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health, which will make materials available to embassies for translation
- The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which will make materials available to embassies for translation


The International Program's co-chairs are Lady Catherine Manning, wife of the British Ambassador to the United States, and Rima Al-Sabah, wife of Kuwait's Ambassador to the United States.

Steering Committee members:

Mrs. Roberto Abdenur
Embassy of Brazil

Mrs. Amadou Ba
Embassy of the Republic of Senegal

Mrs. Pedro Catarino
Embassy of Portugal

Mrs. Jean David Levitte
Embassy of France

Mrs. Luis Moreno
Embassy of Colombia

Mrs. András Simonyi
Embassy of Hungary

Mrs. Yuri Ushakov
Embassy of the Russian Federation

Mrs. Boudewijn Johannes Van Eenennaam
Embassy of the Netherlands

"Partnering with the diplomatic community is key to the success of our efforts to inform women and policymakers around the world that heart disease knows no borders or boundaries," said Irene Pollin, founder and president of Sister to Sister.


Nancy Rosen
Sister to Sister
4701 Willard Avenue, Suite 223
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Tel: 301-718-8033
Fax: 301-718-8620