On the same day as the news spread that Barbra Streisand had earned her 42nd Grammy nomination for the CD “What Matters Most,” Streisand appeared at the TEDWomen Conference, a bi-coastal live webcast of presentations about leading-edge ideas for women, to speak about one issue that matters greatly to her — heart disease in women.
Barbra Streisand spoke briefly at the event, but was primarily there to introduce C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. The message from Streisand and Dr. Bairey Merz was clear; heart disease is the number one killer worldwide and often is misdiagnosed in women.
As Barbra explained when she spoke, the known heart attack symptoms that we all recognize in film and media are those that affect men. In women, heart attacks do not present with the same symptoms. By the time a woman reaches the emergency room, the damage to the heart may be done. Education and information is imperative, as well as research specific to women. The female heart is not the same as the male, and research is bearing out that fact.
The conference, held at the Paley Center for Media, was live-streamed via the Internet. Looking energetic and engaged, Barbra was fervent in her desire to spread the word about the need for attention to be paid to the issue of women’s heart disease. Streisand’s one of the benefactors to the Women’s Heart Center of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, a place that provides risk assessment, diagnosis and heart disease care at the hospital ranked among the top 15 in the nation for Heart and Heart Surgery by U.S. News and World Report. The center is designed to help women reduce their chances of heart disease through a preventive approach, including state-of-the-art testing.
Streisand is passionate about this issue, having campaigned for research and lead fundraising drives. She’s also donated her own money, over $5 million. I urge you to watch the video and heed the warnings. She wants us to share this important information with the people — the women in your life — whom we love and worry about.
And in typical Streisand fashion, the introduction was not just about the facts — even though that was what you said it would be. No, Barbra the entertainer appeared and made us laugh. She can’t help herself — she’s still a funny girl. The story about the research into stem cells was fascinating…and hilarious, the way Streisand told it. Who knew that male stem cells are as direction-challenged as the men in our lives!
But mostly, this was a serious — and illuminating — speech. The facts are staggering and people do need to know what’s happening.
So, thank you Barbra for standing on the forefront and lending your voice to this cause. What matters most is what you do, not just what you sing. Once again, you minded us of that yesterday. Sure, the Grammy nomination was great, but the TEDWomen Conference appearance meant more.