Louisiana Women: Cardiologist breaking barriers for women’s heart health

Local News

A female cardiologist in Baton Rouge is working to educate and empower women to know their numbers. 

At a young age Dr. Charisse Ward knew she wanted to work in the medical field. 

“Medicine is a calling and the calling chooses us, we don’t choose it,” said Ward.

Ward is one of a small handful of female interventional cardiologists in the state.

“Once you get into the subspecialties, like interventional cardiology, it is male dominated,” said Ward.

Her time as a cardiologist isn’t the only time she’s excelled in a field dominated by men.

Ward served as an officer and doctor in the Navy.

“I felt that it was an honor to serve in the military. I really did not distinguish being a female in the military. I was just happy to have the opportunity.”

While juggling medical school, earning her masters and serving our country, Ward was also raising a son. 

“Then I was stationed in Georgia and while I was there I did my masters part time at night. The whole time in medical school, I was a single mom.”

Despite all the obstacles she faced, she never let her gender be one of them. 

“I really just focused on my patients and excellence and I just forgot everything else, including my gender. You know as women we sacrifice a lot, but I always felt that I could be a good mother and pursue my dream and fulfill my calling. I’m happy that I did follow my dreams because I raised a son who realized that there really are no limits.”

Today, Ward continues to push the boundaries for women. 

“I’ve noted the disparities between men and women in the diagnosis and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is still the number one killer of women and takes more lives than all cancers. Even in medical school we saw pictures of middle aged men with side effects and that is the picture of heart disease, but that’s not true.”

Ward said she hopes to educate and empower women to take control of their health. 

“We’re often very occupied by taking care of our families and taking care of what needs to be done at the job, but we do need to take care of ourselves. In addition, it’s important for women to realize that cardiovascular disease is not a man’s disease and to take steps to know your numbers and to take care of yourself.”

Ward is heading up a new program at the Cardiovascular Institute of the South called CIS Women’s Program.

It focuses on bringing to light specific risks and symptoms that women should know when it comes to heart disease. 

For more information on the CIS Women’s Program or to learn more about Dr. Ward click here

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