Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola Medicine has launched a new women’s heart health program—offering preventive strategies, screening and innovative treatment protocols and strategies, including complementary medical approaches to care—geared toward the specific needs of women.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Non-Hispanic white and Black women are at highest risk for heart disease. In addition, diabetes, mental stress/depression, obesity and smoking tend to play a larger role in the development of heart disease in women compared to men.

"Historically, heart disease was only thought to only affect men,” said May Bakir, MD, a non-invasive cardiologist who is the medical director of the new program. “Now, we recognize that there are unique features of heart disease in women. The women's heart health program at Loyola includes a multidisciplinary team of specialists adept at identifying and treating the symptoms and risk factors associated with heart disease in women."

The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which affects blood flow to the heart and can cause a heart attack. Risk factors for heart disease include high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, obesity, inactivity, diabetes and smoking.

Often, heart disease manifests itself differently in women, and may go undiagnosed until symptoms are acute. Both men and women may experience chest pain, sweating, shortness of breath, arm, neck, jaw or back pain while experiencing a heart attack. Women, however, may also feel extreme fatigue, lightheaded or dizzy. Other common symptoms in women are nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations and the onset of sudden confusion.

Preventive screening and care are offered at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, and at various Loyola locations throughout the region. New patients at the Loyola women's heart health program are asked to complete a questionnaire prior to their first appointment to pinpoint individual risk factors for heart disease. This personalized assessment—along with each patient’s medical history and a complete cardiac exam—becomes the basis for a heart disease prevention and treatment plan, specific to each patient.

“The program uses a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to heart care – that means you can see all the specialists you need under one roof, including cardiologists, nurse practitioners, neurologists, vascular surgeons, dietitians and a genetic counselor,” said Dr. Bakir. “Our experts will help you navigate and schedule any follow-up appointments close to home to ensure consistent care.”

"The women's heart health program is an important addition to Loyola's nationally ranked cardiology program, offering the highest level of expert care specifically geared toward the unique needs of women," said Lowell H. Steen Jr., MD, chair of cardiology at Loyola Medicine. "We are thrilled to announce this new program under the direction of Dr. Bakir."

Loyola Medicine's cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked 48th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

For more information about the Loyola women’s heart health program, visit:


About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial HospitalMacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.