2018 Stories

Heart Health & Longevity For All Women

“Multi-stakeholder collaborations are the key to improving women’s heart health. To decrease the devastating toll of heart and vascular disease in women, we must work together.”

– Stephanie Coulter, MD  Director Center for Women’s Heart & Vascular Health

Drs. Denton Cooley and James T. Willerson invited Dr. Stephanie Coulter, an outstanding cardiologist and world-class echocardiographer, to develop a unique program that would address significant gaps in the cardiovascular care of women. Launched in 2010, THI’s Center for Women’s Heart & Vascular Health was the first women’s center of its kind in the Southwest, and it remains the only one in the Texas Medical Center.

Led by Dr. Stephanie Coulter, the Women’s Center is addressing significant gaps in research and education to impact the care of women suffering from or at risk for developing heart and vascular disease. The Women’s Center has three important goals: conduct clinical research in women, raise awareness about cardiovascular disease among women, and educate doctors and nurses so they can better recognize warning signs in their patients and choose the most appropriate treatments.

The Women’s Center’s team is highly collaborative and supports THI’s research and educational missions in multiple ways.

By the Numbers

Straight Talk E-Newsletters Published
Online Videos for Medical Professionals
Community Outreach Events for Women
Heart-health Screenings for Women
>140 patches earned
K-6 THI Educational Programs for Young Girls


All Women’s Center outreach programs strive to reach the community with life-saving information. In 2018, the Women’s Center established new alliances and is investing in the technology to improve community outreach.

Through Houston HeartReach, more than 1,500 one-on-one heart-health screenings have been freely provided to women in the greater Houston area. As a result, the Women’s Center has established unparalleled trust and strong relationships within the diverse Houston community and beyond.

“We are deeply committed to developing modern communication tools to reach women and their families every day and encourage them to take charge of their health.”

— Keri Sprung, Women’s Center Program Manager & Director of Communications

Education for Women 

Physicians must be able to identify women’s unique symptoms, choose effective diagnostic tests, develop targeted lifestyle-modification programs, and understand how disease progression may differ between men and women.

The Annual Women’s Heart and Vascular Symposium is designed to provide physicians with the latest information about preventing, diagnosing, and treating heart disease in women. The information presented at the Symposium is subsequently published as a Special Section of the Texas Heart Institute Journal, which can be accessed at no cost.

This year, THI launched an online video library on its new website, which includes presentations by distinguished faculty who share insights into current research, guidelines, and treatment strategies specific to women.

The Women’s Center also is training our next generation of professionals, including individuals pursuing administrative and communication careers in the healthcare, research, and medical education fields. We engage high school, college, and postgraduate students interested in our mission; this year, we mentored students from the University of Texas at Austin, UT Health, Lone Star College of Nursing, Baylor College of Medicine, the Houston Independent School District Emerge Scholar Program and its School for Law and Justice, Breakthrough Houston, Vanderbilt University, Texas Southern University Health Administration, and the University of Mississippi. In addition, we inspire young grade school girls to learn more about their heart and the importance of establishing heart-healthy lifestyles early in life.

Our Research

The Women’s Center has a highly collaborative research program that investigates the roles biology, psychology, and lifestyle play in putting women at risk for heart disease. New collaborations between THI teams and others in the Texas Medical Center are examining genetic factors that predispose women to heart disease.

In 2018, the Women’s Center team dedicated substantial resources to strengthening its research network and developing new research protocols to facilitate collaborations with a comprehensive team of cardiovascular fellows, interventional heart disease physicians, advanced-imaging cardiac physicians, and cardiovascular surgeons. As a result, two new registries were launched in 2018: the Houston HeartReach Registry and the Percutaneous Valve Research Database.

The Houston HeartReach Registry

From the time the Women’s Center was launched in 2010, Dr. Coulter has remained focused on investigating racial, ethnic, and cultural disparities in the development of cardiovascular disease in women. To further this research, the THI Houston HeartReach Registry was established, which has over 1,500 participants today

Percutaneous Valve Research Database to Examine Sex Differences and Outcomes

The valve registry was developed to collect and manage data on baseline characteristics, procedures, treatments, outcomes, and follow-up of all patients receiving transcatheter aortic valve replacements (TAVR procedures). This includes data that are pertinent to the study of women’s health, such as pregnancy complications, menopause status and treatment, osteoporosis history and treatment, pregnancy-induced complications, and cancer history and treatment.

The research findings derived from these registries will help physicians develop better prediction models to identify modifiable risk factors and implement the most successful treatment protocols for women.

Photo Credit, Cody Duty | Texas Medical Center