Best of 2021 Stories

THI’s Women’s Center Steps into its Next Decade of Excellence

Women's Focused Research Since 2010

Under the direction of Stephane Coulter, MD, the THI Center for Women's Heart & Vascular Health seeks to answer unmet clinical needs related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of women’s heart and vascular disease. THI Women’s Center investigators, volunteers, and community partners strive to reduce the impact of heart disease on women and their families through a combination of outreach, patient and professional education, and research.

The Center has placed a special emphasis on women-focused clinical research since its founding in 2010, particularly through its ongoing Houston HeartReach (HHR) research registry. Women who attend HHR health screening events can consent to have their health data included in the registry; when their data is analyzed together, it can help identify heart disease trends and risk factors across an ethnically and culturally diverse population of women. The data also helps Women’s Center investigators and their collaborators identify trends that will shape further hypothesis-driven research into the specific factors affecting women’s cardiovascular health. 

In 2021, the Women’s Center embarked on two new areas of research that will benefit women and men. An extensive database was created to include all percutaneous valve procedures performed at the Texas Heart Institute. This new database is the ideal tool to assess quality and outcomes from percutaneous valve procedures conducted at our institution. Multiple investigators are using the data to conduct outcomes studies or as a point of reference to evaluate new ways to approach valve disease.. 

Women’s Center investigators are also taking a data-based approach to improve cardiovascular care for patients with obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions in America.

Over 70% of the US population is currently considered overweight or obese. Self-reported obesity statistics by state show 16 states—including Texas— have populations with average body mass indexes (BMIs) above 25 kg/m2. By race, Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Black people have the highest risk of obesity.

Obesity can cause high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and other health problems. Studies have found a relationship between higher BMI and mortality, but larger database analyses are needed to understand the impact of concomitant conditions on study findings. THI now aims to evaluate behavior and risk stratification in obese patients with cardiovascular disease by analyzing its database registry of over 186,000 surgical and cardiac cases. This new initiative will enable THI to develop a unique reference point for new guidelines and preventive measurements that could benefit obese patients who may be at higher risk with certain procedures.


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