Sarah Goodwin

Kathi Ovnic
Holly Korschun
June 29, 1998

The Board of Directors of the American Heart Association (AHA) has named Emory University cardiologist and advocate for women's health, Nanette Kass Wenger, M.D., AHA Physician of the Year. Dr. Wenger received the award June 26 during the AHA's 50th annual Delegate Assembly.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of Dr. Wenger, heart disease has shed its reputation as solely a man's disease. Dr. Wenger has uncovered significant differences in how heart disease affects women and men -- and she was among the first physician-scientists to speak out about the great underrepresentation of women subjects in medical research. In her newly published book Women & Heart Disease (D. Julian and N. Wenger, Eds., Martin Dunitz, London, 1997) and in her 1993 New England Journal of Medicine paper, Dr. Wenger lists point after point, including the following, in which women are more devastated by heart disease than men:

  • Women with heart disease have worse prognoses than men
  • Women are more likely to have certain cardiac conditions, including 'silent' heart attacks
    • Women are more likely to die soon after heart attack
  • Women are more likely to die during cardiac-related hospitalizations
    • Women are tested and treated less aggressively for cardiac conditions including chest pain
  • Women are sicker and older when they do receive treatment
    • Women less likely to be treated with new clot-dissolving treatments
  • Women, as a group, have not kicked the smoking habit as well as men
    • Women are less likely to participate in cardiac

    Dr. Wenger was the first woman president of the Georgia affiliate of the American Heart Association and received their Silver and Gold Distinguished Served Medallions. She has served on the board of directors and in several other capacities for AHA at the national level. She was governor for the Georgia chapter of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), secretary and a member of the board of trustees for ACC nationally and is past-president of the Council on Geriatric Cardiology and editor of the American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology. She was elected as a master of the American College of Physicians.

    Currently, Dr. Wenger heads the Emory component of the Heart and Estrogen-Progestin Replacement Study (HERS), a national study evaluating whether hormone replacement therapy can prevent recurrent coronary episodes in women with coronary disease after menopause. She also is one of the two co-principal investigators leading the EVISTA trial, an international study testing in some 10,000 women in 25 countries the role of the osteoporosis drug Raloxifene in preventing coronary death and heart attack in postmenopausal women with coronary disease or at high risk for its occurrence.

    A graduate of Hunter College (summa cum laude) and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Wenger completed a residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. She has authored or co-authored more than 900 scientific and review articles and book chapters.

    Dr. Wenger recently chaired the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Conference on Cardiovascular Health and Diseases in Women. She chaired the

    World Health Organization Expert Committee on Rehabilitation after Cardiovascular Disease and co-chaired the Guideline Expert Panel on Cardiac Rehabilitation for the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.

    She received the Outstanding Professional Achievement Award from Hunter College in 1993, the President's Women in Science Award of the American Medical Women's Association in 1993, the Citation of the American College of Sports Medicine in 1994, and the Jan J. Kellermann Memorial Award for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation of the International Society of Heart Failure in 1995.

    She was cited in Time magazine's Women of the Year issue for her contributions to cardiac rehabilitation and international medical teaching. In 1994, Dr. Wenger was named "One of the 10 Most Important Women in Medicine" by Ladies Home Journal and was recognized by McCall's magazine for her research into causes and treatments for heart disease in women. She has been recognized as Atlanta Woman of the Year in Medicine. She is listed in Best Doctors in America (Woodward/White Inc., Aiken, S.C., 1995).

    Dr. Wenger is professor of Medicine (Division of Cardiology) at the Emory University School of Medicine, a consultant to Emory Heart Center and director of the Cardiac Clinics at Grady Memorial Hospital.

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