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The heart of the matter: How CordiFio is creating change

FemTech World speaks to Petronela Sandulache of CorDiFio about why heart condition diagnoses are harder for women

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Heart health attacks CorDiFio

Heart health for women can be a difficult diagnosis to make due to symptoms mirroring other conditions. FemTech World meets Petronela Sandulache founder of CorDiFio

Petronela started her career in the consulting and automotive industry all over the world before a family tragedy made her assess her goals.

She said: “When something terrible happened in my family, it made me think about life and what it is all about. The most important person in our lives had a misdiagnosis and that was it. Someone who is relatively healthy just disappears overnight. That was when I started to investigate the disparities in medical diagnosis for women.”

Petronella added: “Women present different types of symptoms that get confused with indigestion or anxiety rather than being taken seriously and having a further investigation. Once I started investigating, I found out that the number one killer of women more than all cancers combined is heart disease yet 50 per cent following an attack get misdiagnosed.

This is huge pressure on the healthcare system because misdiagnosis means wrong treatments and doctors. The ones who are paying the price are women.”

Heart health attacks CorDiFio

Heart attacks and health

When it comes to heart attacks, women present different symptoms to men. Yet when it comes to diagnosis, the male symptoms are often used as a benchmark for how it presents.

Petronela explained: “In research conducted by the Canadian stroke and heart foundation, they discovered that 30 to 50 per cent of women diagnosed with depression are actually misdiagnosed and this can mask heart disease in women. They have only recently started to investigate the problem of heart disease, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease in women and why things present differently.”

Hormones are one reason why women have been excluded from studies and it’s why certain conditions present differently in women. Women also face challenges when it comes to taking part in clinical trials such as childcare or pregnancy.

“Obviously we have hormones that are not taken into consideration when you just study male models. So I thought we need to do something about this because femtech is just about tracking your period, making babies or menopause. Women are much more than their reproductive organs. Everything we know about common diseases, treatments and diagnosis has been done on men,” Petronela said.

“We need to do something about heart disease because if you don’t know that you have it, then you can be gone in five minutes. That’s why I called the company, CorDiFio, it means, in Italian, the heart of Fio which was the name of my mother. I’m dedicating this to her and all the women out there so they don’t need to go through the same type of thing,” she added.

The research also revealed that different ethnic backgrounds may place women at higher risks for cardiovascular diseases.

Petronela said: “It’s important to note within the female population, we have ethnic backgrounds with different risk profiles. We know that African, Hispanic or southeast Asian women have a higher probability of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to caucasian women.”

Heart health awareness

CorDioFio is dedicated to raising awareness so that women can detect heart problems early before it becomes a medical emergency. Its goal is to empower both women and their doctors to come up with early detection which will help to save lives.

“The great news is that 80 per cent of heart disease and strokes are preventable if caught in time. We are determined to keep women’s hearts beating longer.”

When it comes to CorDiFio’s technology, how does it work for patients?

Petronella explained: “If you download our app or go to the website to register then we take you on a journey by asking specific questions that take about 20 minutes to answer. We will generate a personalised health report for you to download and take to your appointment with your GP. You will learn your risk factors, where you need to keep an eye out and it’s something tangible to start that conversation with doctors by highlighting things you wouldn’t have thought of.”

She added: “We have tested this with various women from all over the world to see what their doctors say about the reports. They found that they don’t have a heart problem which is great so it’s peace of mind but some found they had other issues which present a diagnostic opportunity. We want to integrate this and are working with wearables.”

Read more about femtech and CorDiFio

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Canadian insurer launches partnership to support women’s health

Members of the Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross will have access to a dedicated women’s health platform

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Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving

The Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross (MBC) has partnered with the virtual health platform sanoLiving to support women on their menopause journey.

Currently, more than 10 million Canadian women are navigating menopause, often with little support and misinformation about treatments.

With sanoMidLife, sanoLiving’s online menopause platform, Medavie Blue Cross members will have access to a national women’s health platform tailored to provide care and services for women going through the menopause.

The service includes personalised assessments, access to clinicians, treatments, educational content, peer support and AI assistance.

“Many women lack support for their menopause transition due to the misunderstandings of what is ‘normal’ and misinformation about treatments,” said Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving.

“Women are seeking solutions that allow them to thrive during midlife. We are thrilled about our alliance with Medavie Blue Cross, and our shared commitment to providing access to care that empowers women.”

Anita Swamy, senior vice president operations at Medavie Blue Cross, added: “We’ve heard first-hand from our members about the need for more menopause-related services.

“Our partnership with sanoLiving creates an innovative way to increase access to care for our members as we continue to focus on the support women need to navigate their benefits and provide forward-thinking options to support their health.”

Studies report one in 10 women exit the workforce due to unmanaged symptoms. Early onset of menopause and symptoms before age 45 can elevate the risk of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis.

With this new service, Medavie Blue Cross and sanoLiving are aiming to open up the conversation around menopause, reduce stigma and work towards giving women the access to the care they need.

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US start-up raises US$2.32m to address pelvic health concerns

The Flyte intravaginal device aims to treat stress urinary incontinence and strengthen pelvic floor muscles

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The US women’s health start-up Pelvital has raised US$2.32m in funding to address “unanswered” pelvic health issues.

Minnesota-based Pelvital aims to restore pelvic health with its first product Flyte, an FDA-cleared intravaginal treatment for stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and weakened pelvic floor muscles.

The device, originally developed by physicians from the Arctic University of Norway, uses mechanotherapy, a treatment modality that when paired with an active pelvic floor contraction stimulates tissue regeneration and the creation of neuromuscular memory.

The company will use the funding to speed up the commercialisation of Flyte and raise awareness of pelvic health issues.

“Completing this round is an important step in continuing Pelvital’s unwavering dedication to provide women with innovative solutions for pelvic health, including the treatment of SUI,” said Lydia Zeller, president and CEO of Pelvital.

“This funding will play a crucial role in accelerating our commercialisation of Flyte with a strong emphasis on expanding payor coverage and enhancing clinical education and clinician awareness.”

With this final close, Zeller said, Pelvital would welcome new investors including Pier 70 Ventures, Life Science Angels, Tech Coast Angels Orange County, and Blue Pacific Fund.

Preetha Ram, managing partner at Pier 70 Ventures, would join the Pelvital board of directors.

“Joining Pelvital’s board alongside this investment round is truly an honour,” Ram shared.

“Pier 70 and I are thrilled to be part of this transformational opportunity, as Pelvital’s mission aligns beautifully with our dedication to support disruptive technologies that shake up the status quo in healthcare.

“Pelvital’s pioneering work is shaping a future where women’s health receives the attention and innovation it deserves with novel medical devices like Flyte.”

Oscar Moralez, founder and managing partner of Boomerang Ventures who led the investment round, said: “We are thrilled for the successful completion of this round as we aim to tackle the most pressing healthcare challenges.

“Our participation aims to address the chronic underfunding in women’s healthcare. Investing in Flyte, a truly groundbreaking treatment, addresses underserved pelvic health issues like SUI and contributes to raising vital awareness.”

Two published clinical trials have validated Flyte’s safety, efficacy and durability of treatment effect for women with SUI.

Most recently Pelvital published a paper in Therapeutic Advances in Urology, showing that 71 per cent of study participants achieved dry or near dry conditions as evidenced by a reduction in 24-hour pad weight after using Flyte for between two and 12 weeks.

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Cleveland Clinic launches new women’s health and research center

The programme aims to address women’s unique health needs during midlife and beyond

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From left: Cleveland Clinic CEO and president Dr Tom Mihaljevic, Maria Shriver and Dr Beri Ridgeway / Source: clevelandclinic.org

Cleveland Clinic has launched its new Women’s Comprehensive Health and Research Center, an initiative dedicated to helping women during midlife.

The center, which will focus on access, connectivity, education and research and innovation, aims to empower women to navigate their health journey with confidence and clarity.

Maria Shriver, founder of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention and Research Center at Cleveland Clinic, will serve as chief visionary and strategic advisor.

“I’ve always believed our nation needed a first-class comprehensive women’s health center, and now we have one,” said Shriver.

“Over the past several years, I’ve been honoured to work alongside so many talented and passionate doctors at Cleveland Clinic to bring this vision to life. This is a place for women at every stage of life where they will feel seen, will get the research they need, and the care they deserve, from their brains to their bones.

“I am thrilled that today the WAM Prevention and Research Center expands, as it deserves to.”

Dr Tom Mihaljevic, Cleveland Clinic CEO and president, said: “Maria’s unwavering commitment to raising awareness and driving meaningful change aligns perfectly with the mission of our new center.

“Her passion for advancing the quality of care for women is remarkable and will help us transform how we deliver care for women today and into the future.”

The population of women in midlife and in need of healthcare continues to grow. According to US Census Bureau 2020 data, more than 63 million women in the US are 50 years of age or older, and approximately 6,000 women enter menopause each day.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 80 per cent of women aged 55 and older have at least one chronic condition, such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, which strengthens the need for more comprehensive medical care for women in this stage of life.

The new Women’s Comprehensive Health and Research Center will bring together specialty care in various areas, including behavioural health, breast health, cardiovascular care, center for infant and maternal health, endocrinology, menopause, osteoporosis and metabolic bone density, wellness and disease prevention.

Through initiatives focused on streamlining appointment processes, enhancing outreach programmes and prioritising health equity, the center will seek to ensure that all women can readily access the care they need.

“Midlife is an important milestone and a time to empower women to address health issues and focus on future health,” said Dr Beri Ridgeway, chief of staff at Cleveland Clinic.

“Taking a holistic approach, including menopausal and hormonal health, reproductive health, mental health, chronic conditions and preventive care, is critical to optimise health outcomes.

“Our priority is to help women in this stage of life make educated decisions about their health and have access to the services they need to thrive, while also feeling seen, heard and supported.”

The center, Ridgeway said, will offer support groups and resources to help address health disparities, reach diverse communities and bridge gaps in health literacy.

The institution’s ultimate mission, she explained, is to advance research and innovation specific to women during midlife.

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