Conference Focuses on Women’s Heart Health

Conference Focuses on Women’s Heart Health

Electrophysiology nurse Eileen Tangley never misses VCU Health’s Women’s Heart Health Symposium. “I have attended all of the symposiums so far and look forward to it each February now,” she said. “It has really opened up my eyes to the subtle, yet sometimes significant, circumstances that are unique to women’s heart health.”    

About 100 health care providers attended the annual conference in February at the Virginia Historical Society. Participants arrived from all over the state and even outside Virginia for the symposium, sponsored by Pauley and VCU Health Continuing Medical Education.

“The conference was fantastic,” said Dr. Jordana Kron, who organized the event with fellow Pauley cardiologist Dr. Phoebe Ashley. “As in previous years, the feedback was very positive. Attendees really enjoyed the day, both the lectures and catching up with old friends, and had suggestions for topics to include next year.”

Highlights of the day included a talk on hypertension in women, led by Dr. Benjamin Van Tassell. “It was very thought-provoking,” said Kron. “He challenged the audience to think about the ways research answers and sometimes doesn’t answer the critical questions of how diseases and treatments affect women differently than men.”

In addition to traditional risk factors for cardiac disease—such as hypertension, smoking, diabetes, and obesity—there are nontraditional risk factors that play an important role in women, she said. “These emerging, nontraditional risk factors include hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, gestational diabetes, autoimmune disease and breast cancer treatment.”

Tangley, a cardiology nurse at Pauley for more than 35 years, described the talks as “enlightening.” For instance, in Dr. John Reavey-Cantwell’s talk on carotid artery disease, “he promoted the simple act of listening for a bruit to help when screening.” A bruit is the sound heard over a blood vessel reflecting turbulent blood flow.

Dr. Huzaefah Syed spoke on cardiac risk in women with rheumatologic disease—an important topic, said Kron, “because many inflammatory diseases predominantly affect women.” 

Following breakfast, Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen gave opening remarks. Other speakers included Dr. Stephanie Mayer (diabetes), Dr. Barbara Lawson (valvular heart disease), Dr. Jose Exaire (peripheral vascular disease), genetic counselor Allison Goodwin (genetics) and Dr. Erica Mason (obstructive sleep apnea).

“Throughout the conference, we highlighted that heart disease is the number one cause of death in U.S. women, killing more than all types of cancer combined,” said Kron. “Women hear and worry a lot about breast cancer, but they should be aware that cardiac disease is their number one threat.”

Save-the-date! The Fourth Annual Heart Health in Women Symposium will be on Saturday, February 2, 2019. Visit for more information.

From L to r: Dr. Erika Mason, Dr. Stephanie Mayer, Dr. Barbara Lawson, Dr. Phoebe Ashley, Dr. John Reavey-Cantwell, Dr. Jordana Kron, Dr. Huzaefah Shah, and Allison Goodwin, M.S.