The 2020 Academy of Cardiology Conference in Mumbai: A Shared Experience With Cardiology Icon, Nanette K. Wenger, MD, MACC

FEATURE | In the beginning of this year – and beginning of a new decade – I had the opportunity to sit beside and learn from an icon, Nanette K. Wenger, MD, MACC, in a seemingly unlikely setting.

We were in Mumbai, India, for the annual Academy of Cardiology meeting devoted to heart diseases in women.

The conference spanned two days and covered all topics related to the care of women with cardiovascular disease:

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  • From risk factors to spontaneous coronary artery dissection
  • Myocardial infarction with nonobstructive coronary arteries
  • Pregnancy
  • Related hypertension and preeclampsia
  • Peripartum cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
  • Considerations of pharmacotherapy during breast feeding
  • Venous thromboses
  • Autoimmune diseases and vasculitis
  • Female phenotypes of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction
  • Differences in muscle mass resulting in sex differences in cardiopulmonary exercise testing
  • Left ventricular assist device and transplant therapies and differential outcomes sometimes encountered in women

Cardiologists all over the region gathered for the purposes of sharing their experiences and learning about various clinical scenarios in cardiovascular medicine and evidence-based therapeutic approaches specific to the female gender.

Wenger, who has pioneered the field of women and heart disease, was enthused and ever engaged with no signs of jet lag or fatigue!

She shared with attendees the evolution of heart disease in women over the past several decades, as well as her appreciation for the committee's selection of this forward-thinking and necessary theme for their 20th year in 2020.

Sitting in the audience and at the podium gave me pause – to think about how despite how far we have come in the U.S., through the ACC, ACC Women in Cardiology Section, and gender-focused issues in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, there is still so much work to be done.

It was most impressive to see a sea of men in a country sometimes considered "conservative" in its view on women in medicine – so devoted and eager to learn about how they could better care for their female patients and cater to their specific needs.

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The concept of pregnancy serving as a window into the cardiovascular health was reiterated, and Wenger shared the progressive practice at Emory University wherein all women with a diagnosis of preeclampsia have an automatic follow up appointment with a cardiologist at six weeks post-partum to ensure follow up and increase awareness.

Attending this conference subtly but profoundly impacted my life. I was humbled to realize how progressive other parts of the world were becoming in paying more attention to women as patients and colleagues in cardiovascular medicine.

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I was honored to sit beside Wenger, a true tour de force with boundless energy and insight into the field. Our gracious hosts at the Academy of Cardiology in Mumbai and Wenger left me inspired to help answer a meaningful call to action for a new year and new decade: women and heart disease.

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This article was authored by Anuradha Lala, MD, FACC, cardiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NY.