Women and heart disease


Early Disease Diagnosis is Goal of Women’s Heart Program at Baptist Health Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute

Baptist Health Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, but it is often underdiagnosed in women who are increasingly being affected at a younger age.  Early heart disease, or contributing risk factors, are more often overlooked in younger women.

Baptist Health Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute has responded to this troubling trend by establishing the Women’s Heart Program, led by Andrea Vitello, M.D., cardiologist at the Institute.

Andrea Vitello, M.D., cardiologist at Baptist Health Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute.

“Identifying heart disease and risk factors in younger women is a key reason to establish this program,” explains Dr. Vitello. “Historically, heart disease has been thought of as being a disease process that affects older men, which can have profound negative consequences for women. This can lead to the assumption that women may be less affected or do not need to understand their risk until later years. Heart disease in women has been overlooked and can affect women at any age.”

This program’s goal is to identify risk factors that are unique to women, such as hormonal changes, pregnancy-related complications, and autoimmune conditions, she adds.

“By identifying risk factors, the idea is to be proactive in our approach to preventing cardiovascular illness and be aggressive at implementing lifestyle changes and medical treatments, if necessary, to prevent heart disease,” said Dr. Vitello. “This program can also help to prevent underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis of cardiac conditions that are more common in women.”

Here's more from Dr. Vitello on the Women’s Heart Program, located at the Baptist Health outpatient cardiology office in Pinecrest.

How is a patient referred to the Women’s Heart Program, or how does a patient decide if the program is right for her? 

“A patient may decide that the program is of interest particularly if they have risk factors including: family history of heart disease, cardiac symptoms, concerned about lifestyle behaviors that may have an impact on cardiovascular health, or those with known cardiac conditions.

“Patients can be referred to the Women’s Heart Program by talking with their primary care physicians to obtain a referral, or self-referral by calling the dedicated number: 786-204-4224.”

What is the primary goal of the Women’s Heart Program? 

“The Women’s Heart program is intended to:”

  • Improve the health and well-being of women at risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Include a comprehensive risk assessment tailored to women.
  • Empower women by bringing awareness regarding cardiovascular health.
  • Provide early identification and treatment of diseases unique to women.

Why do women need to see a specialized cardiologist vs. a general cardiologist?

“A specialized cardiologist focused on women’s heart health brings a unique perspective, with an understanding of female specific risk factors to help guide the patient on her heart health journey.”

What are the specific underlying health conditions that qualify a patient for the Women’s Heart Program?

“Some reasons to reach out to the Women’s Heart Program include:”

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • MINOCA/ INOCA (Myocardial infarction with non-obstructive coronary arteries/ Ischemia with no obstructive arteries)
  • Breast Arterial Calcification, usually seen at the time of mammography
  • Menopause
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications (preeclampsia, gestational diabetes)
  • Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmias
  • Takatsubo (Broken-heart syndrome)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

To request an appointment, call 786-204-4200 or fill out an appointment request form.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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