Dr. Goldberg introduces herself and explains that while she was taught in medical school only men have heart disease, it is now known that women are just as susceptible.
Hi, I am Nieca Goldberg. I am a cardiologist, and I have lived in New York City my whole life, and I am also Medical Director of the NYU Women’s Heart Center at the NYU Langone Medical Center here in New York City.
It has always been my passion as a cardiologist to advocate for those who may not be served so well by the healthcare resources, and in particular, I focus my life and my work on women and heart disease because I was always very frustrated that on the day I graduated from medical school, it was the time that women’s heart disease death rates were rising and we actually graduated with not knowing why, or we were actually graduated with not knowing that fact, and in fact, when we went to medical school, the typical patient having a heart attack was going to be a middle-aged businessman clutching his chest.
So if you think if you educate 220 students in that one medical school class alone, and the face they showed was a man’s face as a typical patient, think about the lack of information and how many women’s heart attacks were going to be missed, and instead I got on-the-job training, and I remember after finishing my residency and cardiology fellowship, I had my first job and it was at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn where I had gone to medical school.
And I was asked to do a stress test on a woman who had worked at my hospital. I met her, you know, I knew her all through medical school, and one morning I was making rounds in the CCU and she was one of the women, she was in the bed and I said, “What are you doing here?” and she said, “Oh, I’ve gone to five doctors. They told me a range of things, that I am stressed out and need to go on vacation.”
One even gave her a prescription for Valium as I recall, and finally she called one of my colleagues who admitted her to the hospital. Luckily, she didn’t have a heart attack, but he said, “Well, I want you to do a stress test on her,” and like she went barely a minute and she was short of breath and said, “I have that feeling in my throat,” and I stopped the treadmill test, her electrocardiogram was abnormal, and I did the usual thing I do if a man was having a stress test of these symptoms.
I called her doctor and said, "She needs an angiogram." Well, I was pretty shocked that this man, who had been my teacher just about a year earlier, said to me, “Well, she can’t be having a heart problem; she can’t have heart disease. She is a woman.” I said, “Well, it smells like heart disease, it looks like heart disease, I bet she has heart disease,” and with the help of the nurse who was working with me, we kind of ganged up on this guy and convinced him that she needed an angiogram, and I am glad we did because the woman had a 99% blockage in the artery that was feeding the front part of her heart muscle. So it was a heart attack waiting to happen; we prevented it.
About Dr. Nieca Goldberg, M.D.:
Dr. Nieca Goldberg is a cardiologist and a nationally recognized pioneer in women’s heart health. Her New York City practice Total Heart Care focuses primarily on caring for women. Dr. Goldberg is Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of NYU Women’s Heart Program, the Co-Medical Director of the 92nd Street Y’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red” campaign – an association for which she has volunteered for over 15 years and been a board member in NYC. She was formerly the Chief of Women’s Cardiac Care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.