UR Medicine Boosts Women’s Heart Health with New, Larger Team

Jan. 28, 2018
It is the only program of its kind in Upstate New York
team photo

UR Medicine is tackling the growing, life-threatening problem of heart disease in women with Upstate New York’s largest team of female cardiovascular experts dedicated to the unique health challenges women experience.

The Women’s Heart Program features eight dynamic physicians dedicated to providing multidisciplinary cardiovascular care for women of all ages. The program includes co-directors Rebecca Schallek, M.D., Ph.D., and Kathleen Raman, M.D., along with vascular surgeon Jennifer Ellis, M.D., cardiac surgeon Lauren Kane, M.D., and cardiologists Hanna Mieszczanska, M.D.,Renee Dallasen Muchnik, M.D., Mary Pudusseri, M.B.B.S., and Himabindu Vidula, M.D.

They are supported by more than 70 specialists within UR Medicine Heart and Vascular, providing care at sites across the Finger Lakes Region.

It is the only program dedicated to supporting women’s heart health in Upstate New York.

“This new team meets a vital need for women across our region and Upstate,” said Schallek, a cardiologist. “Women have different needs for heart and vascular care and we are offering a focused, personalized approach to their care.”

The Women's Heart Program provides risk assessment, specialized diagnostic evaluation and testing, and evidence-based, comprehensive treatment.

“Studies show that 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. It’s important to identify them and work together to minimize them,” said vascular surgeon Raman. “Our mission is to increase awareness and reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in women by offering personalized care and education.”

Women can receive comprehensive care for a broad range of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, hypercholesterolemia and heart failure, as well as those recovering from a heart attack or stroke or who have been diagnosed with sleep disorders and heart disease. They will also partner with UR Medicine’s Maternal Fetal Medicine team to reduce risk of heart disease or events in women during high-risk pregnancies.

Statistics about heart disease and women are staggering:


  • Cardiovascular disease affects 43 million women in the U.S.
  • It is the leading cause of death among women, killing one in three.
  • Women have a higher lifetime risk of stroke than men.
  • As many as 80 percent of heart disease and stroke events may be prevented by lifestyle changes and education.
  • The symptoms of heart attack can be different in women versus men, and are often misunderstood – even by some physicians.
  • Fewer women than men survive their first heart attack.

Studies show that women, who tend to be the primary caregivers, often ignore their own health needs and focus on responsibilities to their family, workplace, school and aging parents. As a result, they receive a heart disease diagnosis after a life-threatening event or hospitalization.

Some of the warning signs of heart disease are:


  • Decreased exercise tolerance;
  • Breathlessness with exertion;
  • Increasing fatigue;
  • Decreased stamina for no clear reason.

UR Medicine Heart and Vascular is hosting a series of talks and free health screenings throughout February, which is American Heart Month:


  • 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7 – Christopher Montgomery, M.D., will address “Shake the Salt Habit: Why Your Blood Pressure Matters,” and screenings from 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. at the Maplewood YMCA, 25 Driving Park Ave.


  • 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 8 – Rebecca Schallek, M.D., will address “Know Your Numbers: What You Should Know About Heart Disease,” and screenings 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at German House, 315 Gregory St.


  • 10 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 15 – Erica Miller, M.D., will discuss “Gender Differences: What Women Need To Know About Their Heart Health,” and free screenings from 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. at the Westside YMCA, 920 Elmgrove Road.


  • 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22 – Schallek will also address “Gender Differences: What Women Need To Know About Their Heart Health,” and screenings from 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. at the Eastside YMCA, 835 Fairport Nine Mile Point Road.


  • 10 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 27 – Andrew Mathias, M.D., will discuss “Pump It Up! Exercise And Your Heart,” and screenings from 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. at the Northwest/Greece YMCA, 730 Long Pond Road.

To make an appointment with specialists in the Women’s Heart Program, call 585-275-2877.