Dr. William A. Zoghbi shares with Lois E. Davis his plans for a fellowship in women’s cardiovascular health

Take Heart

A marathon runner experiences shortness of breath and indigestion while playing with her children. Should she chalk up her discomfort to stress or check in with a cardiologist? If she’s like the majority of American women, she might miss these potential early signs of a heart attack.
“Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America,” says Lois E. Davis. “But it is such a silent killer that women are often unaware they’re at risk.” The Lois E. and Carl A. Davis Women’s Heart Health Fellowship Endowment in the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center is designed to change that, improving care for women and bringing more doctors to the field.
“There is a common misconception, even among medical professionals, that cardiovascular disease is less prevalent in women; it is not,” says Dr. William A. Zoghbi, The Elkins Family Distinguished Chair in Cardiac Health. “This endowment will help Houston Methodist attract early-career physicians — most notably women, who are currently underrepresented — to focus on women’s heart health.”
Even as the rate of heart attacks has decreased among older individuals, women between the ages of 35 and 54 are having heart attacks more frequently. Despite this uptick, they remain less likely to see a cardiologist. Since key warning signs, like extreme exhaustion and jaw pain, are less common in men, they are often overlooked. According to a 2022 American Heart Association report, only 22% of physicians and 42% of cardiologists said they felt prepared to assess heart disease in women.
“We have many women in the family,” says Davis. “With two daughters, a sister, four nieces, grandnieces and granddaughters, this is very close to my heart. I’m really excited about what Dr. Zoghbi has planned.”
Thanks to Davis’ generosity, clinicians and physician-researchers who prioritize women’s heart health will now receive dedicated training and mentorship to better understand and discern women’s unique cardiovascular health needs.