As reported by the Hartford Business Journal, November 17, 2008.

A Heart-to-Heart Message

By Keith Griffin

Women are five times more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer. Yet, less than half of all women are aware that heart disease is their number one killer. That’s a number Anjanette Ferris, M.D., M.P.H., wants to change in her new position as assistant professor of medicine and clinical cardiologist at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington.

Ferris, 37, comes to the health center from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, where she cared for patients in clinical cardiology, preventive cardiology, and the Women’s Cardiovascular Center.

She earned her doctorate in medicine from the State University of New York at Downstate College of Medicine, and completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, including a residency in internal medicine, fellowship in cardiology, and research fellowship in preventive cardiology. She also holds a master’s degree in public health from Columbia.

In 2004, Ferris published a study in Circulation, the preeminent journal of cardiovascular disease that looked at awareness among women and trends from 1997 to 2004. In 1997, only about 3 percent of women were aware that heart disease was their number one killer. She said that has increased to 46 percent by the time of her study.

“Education does work. It takes a while, but it does work,” said Dr. Ferris, adding that the profession is still trying to make inroads. “Even within the medical community, we were biased,” said Ferris, saying as late as the early 1960s, heart care conferences for women only taught them how to care for ailing men in their lives.

What women need to be aware of is the fact they may not typically present the classic symptoms of heart disease. They may not have chest pain, but will suffer from fatigue or shortness of breath. “It may not be appreciated as heart disease,” Ferris said.

She has wanted to be a doctor since the age of 10, following in the footsteps of her aunt, a Panamanian physician. Ferris has always been fascinated by the heart. “I thought I could make a difference,” she said.

Fiscal problems at the University of Connecticut’s Health Center didn’t give Ferris pause before relocating here. “I asked questions. It didn’t really worry me at all and I’m still not worried. Whatever change is coming is going to be good change.”