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Women's Heart & Vascular Health
Center for Women's Heart & Vascular Health
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"Historically, women represent less than 25% of cardiovascular research subjects."

Why Research about Women and Cardiovascular Disease Matters 

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 (THI) at CHI St. Luke’s Health-Baylor St. Luke’s, 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.

Recent Publications 

Original Reports 

Alam,M.; Lee,V.V.; Elayda,M.A.; Shahzad,S.A.; Yang,E.Y.; Nambi,V.; Jneid,H.; Pan,W.; Coulter,S.; Wilson,J.M.; Ramanathan,K.B.; Ballantyne,C.M.; Virani,S.S. Association of gender with morbidity and mortality after isolated coronary artery bypass grafting. A propensity score matched analysis Int.J.Cardiol., 2013, 167, 1, 180-184, Netherlands

Coulter,S.; Campos,K. Thrombosis on a mechanical mitral valve anticoagulated with dabigatran J.Thromb.Thrombolysis, 2014, 37, 2, 84-86, Netherlands

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 

Updated February 2015
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