UAB launches expanded Women’s Heart Health Program, now accepting patients

The program is designed specifically to treat women and address the distinct concerns and unique risk factors that women may experience.

Stream whpThe program is designed specifically to treat women and address the distinct concerns and unique risk factors that women may experience.Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, accounting for about one in every five deaths. Over 60 million women in the United States are living with heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In an effort to curb heart disease and stroke rates, cardiologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Cardiovascular Institute have expanded the Women’s Heart Health Program.

The program is designed specifically to treat women. An experienced team of cardiac experts will evaluate and manage the health of women with all types of heart disease and address the distinct concerns and unique risks factors that women may experience. Patients in the program have access to more physician specialists than before.  

“Women have different risk factors and may experience different cardiovascular symptoms from men,” said Gretchen Wells, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UAB Medicine Women’s Heart Health Program. “We are using state-of-the-art techniques, as well as guideline-based diagnostic tools and therapies, for women to ensure that we are providing our patients with the best care possible.”

The program focuses on treating some of the conditions encountered primarily in women, including coronary microvascular disease, heart failure, spontaneous coronary artery dissection and cardiovascular complications of pregnancy.

“We are focusing on disease-specific areas for women,” Wells said. “Collaboration with multiple groups, including internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, interventional cardiology, and cardiac rehabilitation, among others, will provide our patients with comprehensive care.”  

Wells says that, while the program offers complex, state-of-the-art techniques, it also focuses on helping patients take preventive steps.

Microvascular Program

Early studies performed at UAB indicate that approximately one half of women with abnormal stress tests do not have coronary artery disease imaged via a cardiac catheterization. Physicians at UAB are now able to assess for coronary microvascular disease.

Physicians in the Women’s Heart Health Program are performing coronary functional testing, which measures the blood flow through the micro vessels of the heart most often affected by this condition. UAB is one of only two hospitals in the state that perform testing for CMD.  

“This device allows us to better serve female patients because they make up the majority of patients affected by coronary microvascular dysfunction,” said Mustafa Ahmed, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at UAB. “Using these new tools, we can improve how we measure this type of pathology, helping us to better identify patients with this condition. It has enhanced our understanding of different treatments that specifically cater to the underlying pathology of this condition, whether it be vasospasm or micro-circulation issues.”

Ahmed says, in the past, atypical presentations for this disease were sometimes unable to be quantified and resulted in patients. Now that experts have better tests to identify these diseases, they can help give a diagnosis to many patients who have fallen through the cracks of conventional medicine. 

Those interested in becoming a patient with the Women’s Heart Health Program should call 205-975-7123 to make an appointment.