Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. This includes conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, heart failure and others according to the American Heart Association.
Mass General is home to a vast community of researchers studying the causes of heart disease and working to develop new prevention and treatment strategies.
Since every February is dedicated to heart health awareness, we reached out to some of our cardiology researchers to see what they’re working on.
Read on for the first post in our Heart Month 2019 series!
Matthias Nahrendorf, PhD
Principal investigator at Mass General’s Center for Systems Biology
Director of the Mouse Imaging Program
Weissman Family MGH Research Scholar 2014-2019
Dr. Nahrendorf, is pursuing a deeper understanding of the consequences of ischemic injury (damage caused by a lack of oxygenated blood coming in the heart, which can be result from narrowed arteries) and how the healing process after a cardiac event such as heart attack can contribute to heart failure down the line.
He is also developing molecular imaging tools to non-invasively study regulators of heart failure biology and infarct healing processes. Infarcts are areas of dead tissue that result when the supply of oxygenated blood is cut off from the heart.
It is thought that an excessive increase in immune cell activity that occurs in response to a heart attack may cause a chain reaction that results in the stiffing or scarring of tissues in the heart. These stiffened tissues limit the heart’s ability to contract and pump effectively, which in turn limits the amount of oxygenated blood it can process and can lead to heart failure.
A long-term goal is to devise new therapies to reduce the activity of these inflammatory cells to do only what is necessary to promote healthy healing. If that could be achieved, “Ideally we wouldn’t have heart failure anymore.”
Malissa Wood, MD
Co-Director, Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program
Dr. Wood’s clinical practice is primarily devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 1 in 5 women die from heart disease in the United States and 9 out of 10 women have at least one risk factor for heart disease.
Dr. Wood currently serves as the Co-Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center Corrigan Women’s Health Program and is the principal investigator of the Happy Heart Trial, a primary prevention in low income women study designed to improve the cardiovascular health of high risk women.
Here’s how Dr. Malissa Wood is working to help women with cardiovascular disease:
- Valvular Heart Disease and Heart Failure in Women
- How do we attract and retain women in cardiology?
- Heart Centers for Women
Anthony Rosenzweig, MD
Chief, Cardiology Division
Co-Director, Corrigan Minehan Heart Center
Dr. Rosenzweig is a widely published expert on mechanisms of heart failure and the benefits of exercise, and presents internationally on his research.
His research is focused on heart failure and understanding the clinical implications of fundamental biological processes regulating cell growth, death and regeneration in the heart.
Through his laboratory research, he has worked to identify and validate novel therapeutic targets to address heart failure, as well as studying what keeps the heart healthy, using the exercised heart as a model.
Ami B. Bhatt, MD
Director, MGH Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program
Dr. Bhatt is an active clinical cardiologist, clinical investigator and educator.
Her interests focus on four main areas in adult congenital heart disease: vascular disease, risk prediction, transition and adult congenital heart disease education (ACHD).
She is dedicated to patient advocacy groups and empowering individuals with CHD to lead full and productive lives. She recently published a book that aims to help general cardiologists, pediatricians and related care providers with the management and diagnosis of adult CHD.
Check out the video below to learn about some of Dr. Bhatt’s research: