Inspirational Women in Heart Health

Summary: Throughout  Women’s History Month we’re spotlighting the amazing achievements of women in healthcare — particularly with their contributions to heart health and the fight against heart disease. Keep reading for a few notable examples.
Inspirational Women in Heart Health
Dr. Bernadine Healy 

Dr. Bernadine Healy was a cardiologist and the first woman to lead the National Institutes of Health (NIH), from 1991 to 1993, and also served as president of the American Heart Association and American Red Cross throughout her career. She was a strong advocate for women's health research, particularly in the area of heart disease. During her tenure at the NIH, she focused on increasing funding for research into women's health issues, including heart disease, and raising awareness about the importance of gender-specific research in medicine. Dr. Healy's contributions have helped to advance our understanding of heart disease in women and improve prevention and treatment strategies.1

Dr. Elizabeth Nabel

Dr. Elizabeth Nabel is a cardiologist and biomedical researcher who served as the Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health from 2005 to 2009. During her tenure she prioritized research on heart disease, including efforts to better understand its underlying mechanisms and develop new treatments. Dr. Nabel has been a vocal advocate for increasing funding for cardiovascular research and promoting awareness about the importance of heart health. She continues to be involved in research and education initiatives aimed at combating heart disease.2

Dr. Nanette Wenger

Dr. Nanette Wenger is a cardiologist and professor who has dedicated her career to studying heart disease in women. She’s been a leading voice in advocating for gender-specific research and personalized approaches to heart health. Dr. Wenger's research has highlighted the differences in heart disease presentation and outcomes between men and women, leading to improvements in diagnosis and treatment for female patients. She’s also been actively involved in raising awareness about heart disease prevention and advocating for better cardiovascular care.3

Barbra Streisand

While best known as a singer and actress, Barbra Streisand has also been a passionate advocate for women's heart health. In 2008 she donated to and helped fundraise for the Women’s Heart Center at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, which was later renamed after her. The center focuses on research, education, and outreach initiatives aimed at addressing the disparities in heart disease diagnosis and treatment for women. Streisand's advocacy has helped to raise awareness about the importance of cardiovascular health in women and has inspired increased efforts to combat heart disease.4

Dr. Helen B. Taussig

Dr. Helen B. Taussig’s contribution to women's cardiac health is monumental, particularly through her pioneering work in pediatric cardiology, as her research significantly improved outcomes for children with congenital heart defects. While her work benefited both genders, it indirectly impacted women's cardiac health by laying the groundwork for future advancements in diagnosing and treating heart conditions from infancy through adulthood. Taussig's work with the American Heart Association included advocating for research funding, contributing to educational programs, and helping to raise public awareness about the importance of heart health. She became the first female president of the AHA in 1965.5

More inspirational women in healthcare

These women have each made significant contributions to advancing our understanding of heart health and improving outcomes for individuals affected by heart disease, through their research, advocacy, and leadership. Want to learn even more about inspirational women in the medical field? Check out our blog Trailblazing Women in Healthcare.


1. “Bernadine Healy, M.D.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3 Mar. 2017.

2. “Elizabeth G. Nabel.” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.

3. “Changing the Face of Medicine | Nanette Kass Wenger.” Celebrating America’s Women Physicians, National Institutes of Health, 3 June 2015.

4. Levy, Brandon. “Barbra Streisand Talks Up Women’s Heart Health.” The NIH Catalyst: A Publication about NIH Intramural Research.

5. “Helen Brooke Taussig, M.D.” Helen Brooke Taussig M.D., Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.