Research Goes Red empowers women to advance their heart health

three women smiling

Shortly after birth, Sofia Montoya was diagnosed with Holt-Oram syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the heart and limbs.

 Montoya had several surgeries, including one to reconnect her digestive system when she was a day old, open-heart surgery at 5 months and another to implant a pacemaker at age 7. 

Advancements due to research saved Montoya’s life, but historically clinical studies have not adequately included women or analyzed women-specific heart health data. 

To raise awareness about heart disease among women and how participation in research could further scientific understanding of heart health, the American Heart Association and Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences and healthcare arm, have launched Research Goes Red. The initiative encourages women to participate in Project Baseline, a scientific research effort that may one day lead to more treatments — and a cure — for heart disease. 

“Research Goes Red empowers our growing and passionate community of committed and engaged women to share their health information to greatly enhance what we know about women’s heart disease and potentially help prevent it,” said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association CEO. “Our collaboration with Verily through Project Baseline will accelerate world-class clinical research powered by the momentum of the Go Red for Women movement.”

Project Baseline is a digital platform and community designed to make it easy and engaging to participate in clinical research and drive health care innovation. Women can participate in surveys and focus groups, contribute data for clinical research projects and test new tools, technologies and treatments in years to come.

“For many of us, when we go to the doctor, we assume there’s an entire view of the body, but especially for women, there are sometimes many unanswered questions,” Brown said. “Project Baseline has created a technology-based inventory of all aspects of health to improve patient care and outcomes.” 

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women globally — claiming the lives of one in three every year. Yet, nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented. By leveraging the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement to increase the number of female participants in clinical studies, Research Goes Red hopes to change those statistics.

By increasing female participation in research, “we can develop a comprehensive map that could inform treatment or care decisions,” said Jessica Mega, chief medical and scientific officer for Verily. 

“If we do not include women in this journey, then they will not be able to get the best treatments and we won’t be able to prevent heart disease like we should,” she said. “We know there is so much work to be done, and together we can do it better and we can do it faster.”