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Women and Heart Disease

Women present heart problems differently than men, and since heart disease is the leading cause of death in American women, research on better diagnosis and treatment is vital. Researching conditions such as vascular stiffness, heart valve disease during pregnancy, heart attacks that occur without obstructed coronary arteries, and autoimmune diseases and how they specifically affect the hearts of women will help develop new preventions and treatments.

One preventive treatment might surprise you, and give you yet another reason to get outside. Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for heart attacks in women, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, strokes and the conditions associated with having cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Does taking more vitamin D reduce those risks? Johns Hopkins researchers are tackling topics like this and how they specifically affect women’s heart health.

Johns Hopkins researchers are participating in a multiyear study funded by the American Heart Association that focuses on a specific type of heart disease called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and how it affects women’s hearts. The ejection fraction is a measurement that determines how well your heart pumps blood from the heart’s left ventricle with each beat. About half of patients develop heart failure (accumulation of fluid in the lungs and body) despite having apparently normal pumping function of the left ventricle (ejection fraction of over 50 percent). Studies from Johns Hopkins researchers suggest that the biochemical pathways — a linked series of chemical reactions occurring within a cell — leading to HFpEF are influenced by estrogen in women. A loss of estrogen during menopause may increase the likelihood of HFpEF.

The study’s goal is to investigate the heart, vascular function and skeletal muscle function in men and women with HFpEF. Further understanding of these abnormalities may lead to better personalized treatment of postmenopausal women with HFpEF, as well as men with the condition. This will also help doctors create a personalized approach to treatment and prevention.

 
 

Researchers

Photo of Dr. David Alan Kass, M.D.

Kass, David Alan, M.D.

Professor of Medicine
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences
Abraham and Virginia Weiss Professor of Cardiology
Appointment Phone: 443-997-0270
Primary Location: The Johns Hopkins Hospital (Main Entrance)
 
Photo of Dr. Erin Donnelly Michos, M.D., M.H.S.

Michos, Erin Donnelly, M.D., M.H.S.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Director of Women's Cardiovascular Health
Associate Director of Preventive Cardiology, the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
Appointment Phone: 443-997-0270
Primary Location: The Johns Hopkins Hospital (Main Entrance)
 
Photo of Dr. Monica Mukherjee, M.D., M.P.H.

Mukherjee, Monica, M.D., M.P.H.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Echocardiography Lab, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
Director, Echocardiographic Research, Johns Hopkins University
Appointment Phone: 410-550-1120
Primary Location: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
 
Photo of Dr. Pamela Ouyang, M.B.B.S.

Ouyang, Pamela, M.B.B.S.

Professor of Medicine
Director, Johns Hopkins Women's Cardiovascular Health Center
Appointment Phone: 443-997-0270
Primary Location: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
 
Photo of Dr. Wendy Susan Post, M.D., M.S.

Post, Wendy Susan, M.D., M.S.

Professor of Medicine
Director of Cardiovascular Research, Division of Cardiology
Johns Hopkins Cardiovascular Fellowship Research Director
Primary Location: Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute
 
Photo of Dr. Kavita Sharma, M.D.

Sharma, Kavita, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Director, Johns Hopkins Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction Program
Interim Medical Director, Heart Transplant
Appointment Phone: 443-997-0270
Primary Location: Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center
 
Photo of Dr. Sammy Zakaria, M.D., M.P.H.

Zakaria, Sammy, M.D., M.P.H.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Program Director, Johns Hopkins Bayview Internal Medicine Residency
Assistant Director, Johns Hopkins Bayview Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
Core Faculty, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Colleges Advisory Program
Appointment Phone: 443-997-0270
Primary Location: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
 
 
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Research Labs & Centers

Learn more about our laboratories and centers involved in various aspects of cardiovascular research.

 
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Cardiovascular Research

Our faculty and fellows continue to make ground-breaking discoveries for cardiovascular diseases, learn more about cardiovascular research at Johns Hopkins.

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