Our Research

The Women's Heart Center is committed to advancing the understanding of heart disease and vascular disease in women. Our cross-disciplinary research aims to identify social, economic, environmental, and political factors that influence women’s health in an effort to improve cardiovascular disease outcomes.

Peripartum Cardiomyopathy Network

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare but devastating, cause of heart failure that occurs towards the end of pregnancy and the early months after delivery. Jennifer Haythe, MD, and Natalie Bello, MD, MPH, are working with researchers around the globe to improve understanding of peripartum cardiomyopathy. If you, or someone you know has been diagnosed, contact the Women's Heart Center for more information about ongoing studies.

Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy

Hypertension (elevated blood pressure) during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of complications for mother and child. Women whose pregnancies are affected by hypertension, including preeclampsia, are also at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Research at the Women's Heart Center involves better understanding, monitoring, and treatment of women during pregnancy. If you are seeking treatment for pregnancy-associated hypertension disorders, or are interested in enrolling in research studies evaluating blood pressure measurement during pregnancy, contact the Women's Heart Center for more information about ongoing studies.

Sleep and Cardiovascular Risk

The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Research Network awarded Columbia a grant to evaluate sleep patterns and cardiovascular risk. A team of collaborative physician scientists are conducting a rigorous trial documenting sleep patterns and vascular mechanisms of risk. Population science investigator, Brooke Aggarwal, EdD, MS, CHES is enrolling women to investigate the relationship between sleep patterns, innovative biomarkers, and outcomes.

Heart Health in Action

Excess morbidity and mortality secondary to heart disease and stroke is a reality for all women and, in particular, minority women. Elsa-Grace Giardina, MD, MS and colleagues direct Heart Health in Action, a database composed of the women living and working in Washington Heights-Inwood and supported by funding from the Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and donors. The project has screening, education, and awareness; behavior modification; and tracking and evaluation components.

HARP: Women's Heart Attack Research Program-Imaging Study

Complete blockage or severe narrowing of a heart (coronary) artery by cholesterol plaque typically causes myocardial infarction (MI), also known as a heart attack. However, in five to twenty percent of cases, an angiogram will show “non-obstructive coronary artery disease,” which means that the arteries are less than halfway blocked. This type of heart attack, called myocardial infarction with non-obstructive coronary arteries (MINOCA), is more common in women than men and affects up to 187,000 people in the United States each year. Unfortunately, physicians are still not sure how to properly treat and prevent this type of heart disease. Women's HARP is a multi-center, observational study that uses advanced imaging tests to help identify the most likely causes of MINOCA.

Chronic Hypertension and Pregnancy (CHAP) Project

During pregnancy, chronic hypertension (CHTN) is the most common major medical disorder encountered, occurring in between two and six percent of pregnant women.  Even mild CHTN during pregnancy increases the risk of preeclampsia, adverse perinatal outcomes, and cardiovascular complications. While treatment of CHTN is standard for the general population, it is uncertain whether treatment during pregnancy reduces maternal or fetal complications, and there are concerns that decreased arterial pressure may reduce fetal blood flow and cause poor fetal growth or small-for-gestational-age infants. The CHAP Project is a large pragmatic randomized trial with a primary aim to evaluate the benefits and harms of pharmacologic treatment of mild CHTN in pregnancy.

Atrial Fibrillation in Women

Atrial fibrillation is the most common rhythm disturbance in adults; moreover, there are gender-specific differences. For example, women are more symptomatic from shortness of breath and palpitations, they tend to develop heart failure, and they have increased risk of developing dementia, reduced cognition, and complications from stroke. Elaine Wan, MD, is currently studying gender specific differences in atrial fibrillation.

Pregnancy and Heart Valve Disease

Amisha Patel MD, MS is an interventional cardiologist with a particular interest in global cardiovascular health. Dr. Patel currently is principal investigator of a philanthropic/research grant that studies structural heart disease in pregnant women in underserved maternal health clinics in Hyderabad, India. Each of the women seen in these clinics is educated about rheumatic heart disease, undergoes a free screening echocardiogram, and those identified with structural heart disease are treated free of charge either medically, or with procedures to manage and/or cure their disease.