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Heart Watch keeps physicians abreast of advances at THI.

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"Historically, women represent less than 25% of
cardiovascular research subjects."

Why Research about Women and Cardiovascular Disease Matters 

Because women are under-represented in research, less is known about cardiovascular disease in women than in men. Everything, from the way the disease develops, to the manner of treatment, to outcomes, can be very different for women. For example:

  • Women have 50% more adverse drug reactions than men.
  • Women have more strokes on heart-assist devices than men.
  • Plaque builds up differently in women's arteries than in men.
  • Women's risk of heart disease increases two to fourfold at menopause.  

These are among the reasons Texas Heart Institute, a world leader in cardiovascular research, has put its formidable expertise and talents toward identifying and better understanding the development, treatment and prevention of heart disease in women.  

This is the only program of its kind in the region, and one of very few in the nation. That, along with our long held expertise in the field of cardiovascular research, gives us a distinct strategic advantage in the battle against this disease.

How We Are Making a Difference

One goal is to use existing data to develop a one-of-a-kind clinical database for the comparison and cross-referencing of factors at work in women with cardiovascular disease—across racial and socio-economic spectrums. We expect to mine integrated data from lab tests, echocardiograms, other procedures, blood samples and patient outcomes. This will help us develop more effective strategies for prevention, early intervention, diagnosis and treatment. This study will yield information critical to understanding women's distinct risk factors and disease development. It will be a resource for researchers in the community and throughout the world.  

Other areas of research include:

  • Improved application of heart-assist devices in women with heart failure;
  • Enhanced immunosuppressive therapies for female heart transplant patients;
  • Efficacy of adult stem cell therapies in women;
  • Genetic vulnerabilities of women to heart disease;
  • Genetic indicators for depression and heart disease; and
  • Cardiotoxic reactions to certain cancer therapies used in the treatment of cancers, particularly those most common in women.

Current Studies

In 2012, the Center for Women’s Heart and Vascular Health initiated a study of risk factors for heart disease in underserved women of different ethnic groups. The study, Houston Heart Reach for Women, is designed to investigate racial disparities in the development of cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Stephanie Coulter and her team are working with local community service groups to screen uninsured or underinsured non-pregnant women 30 years or older in the Harris County area. Participants receive a written record of their results, including a full lipid panel, fasting blood glucose levels, and blood pressure levels, well as health recommendations from THI cardiologists. Screening is free of charge, and data collection will continue in the same population each year.

By focusing on low-income women, mostly from minority racial groups, Houston Heart Reach for Women will serve several subpopulations that are underrepresented in cardiovascular research.

Center Receives Heart to Heart Grant from Alpha Phi Foundation

On February 28, 2013, the Center for Women's Heart & Vascular Health was one of two recipients of Alpha Phi Foundation's Heart to Heart Grant. We received the $50,000 grant to help fund our ongoing study, Houston Heart Reach for Women, designed to investigate the roles biology, psychology and lifestyle play in putting a women at risk for heart disease. We are very grateful to the Alpha Phi Foundation for helping us further our mission.

Recent Publications 

Original Reports

Frazier L, Yu E, Sanner J, Liu F, Udtha M, Cron S, Coulter S, Bogaev RC. Gender differences in self-reported symptoms of depression among patients with acute coronary syndrome. Nurs Res Pract. 2012;2012:109251. 

Coulter SA, Campos K. Identify and treat depression for reduced cardiac risk and improved outcomes. Tex Heart Inst J. 2012;39(2):231-234.  

Shah. N, Coulter SA. Evidence-based guide for coronary calcium scoring in asymptomatic patients without coronary heart disease. Tex Heart Inst J. 2012;39(2):240–242. 

Coulter S, Campos K. Thrombosis on a mechanical mitral valve anticoagulated with dabigatran. J Thromb Thrombolysis. 2013 Jun 28; Online ahead of print. doi: 10.1007/s11239- 013-0935-  

Alam M, Lee VV, Elayda MA, Shahzad SA, Yang EY, Nambi V, Jneid H, Pan W, Coulter S, Wilson JM, Ramanathan KB, Ballantyne CM, Virani SS. Association of gender with morbidity and mortality after isolated coronary artery bypass grafting. A propensity score matched analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2013 Jul 15;167(1):180-184.  


Coulter, SA. Epidemiology of Cardiovascular Disease in Women: Risk, Advances, and Alarms. Tex Heart Inst J. 2011;38(2):145-7.  

Coulter, SA. Heart disease and hormones. Tex Heart Inst J. 2011;38(2):137-41.   


Campos-Arce K, Barreda M, Cervera R, Reul R, Coselli J, Preventza O, Shah N, Wang S, Stainback R, Coulter S. Hemodynamic Performance of bioprosthetic aortic valves: a real world experience. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Mar;61(supplA):A497. 

Continuing Medical Education 

"Only 8% of primary care physicians, 13% of OB/GYNs and 17% of cardiologists are aware that more women than men die each year from heart disease." —American Heart Association 

Symposium on Women and Cardiovascular DiseaseFirst Annual Risk, Diagnosis and Treatment of
Cardiovascular Disease in Women

CME Online - Online Release: June 24, 2011
Original Presentation: September 11, 2010
Credits: 3.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™  

Second Annual Risk, Diagnosis and Treatment of
Cardiovascular Disease in Women
CME from Texas Heart Institute Journal, April 2012
Tex Heart Inst J 2013;39(2) link through PMC
Original Presentation: October 1, 2011
Credits: 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits

Third Annual Risk, Diagnosis and Treatment of
Cardiovascular Disease in Women
CME from Texas Heart Institute Journal, June 2013
Tex Heart Inst J 2013;40(3) link through PMC
Original Presentation: November 17, 2012
Credits: 7 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits

Updated August 2013

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Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
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