About the Women's Heart Wellness Program

Our Mission

Dr. Heather Swales and Dr. Stephanie Saucier, the Women’s Heart Wellness Program’s medical directors, say it’s time for a gender-specific approach to cardiovascular care.

The Women’s Heart Wellness Program offers full-service cardiac care for women as part of our mission to make heart wellness the central theme of your overall health. 

Heart disease doesn’t care if you’re male or female. The stereotypical heart-attack victim is a middle-aged man, even though heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death of women in the United States.

But data suggest women do not receive the same treatment, with the same outcomes, as men. Women are less likely to receive standard medical therapies and appropriate diagnostic testing, which creates a need for a more specialized, gender-specific approach to heart disease.  

“We really emphasize education and wellness,” says Dr. Heather Swales, medical director of the Women’s Heart Wellness Program at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain. “Our goal is to provide compassionate, personalized and comprehensive care to women living with, or at risk of, heart disease.”

The American Heart Association recommends heart health screenings for women start at age 20. That includes basics like body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, total cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Smoking, diet quality and physical activity are also considered in assessing your risk of heart disease.

“Women tend to overlook their symptoms and not take them seriously,” says Dr. Stephanie Saucier, medical director of the Women’s Heart Wellness Program at Hartford Hospital. “We’re here to evaluate you, make sure we can treat you and protect you from heart disease.

Women, says Dr. Saucier, are more likely than men to die suddenly from heart disease. They’re also more likely than men to have no symptoms before sudden death. 

A man having a heart attack may experience pressure or tightness in the chest, with discomfort radiating to the neck, jaw or back. Women are more likely to have other symptoms such as shortness of breath, indigestion, nausea and sweating.

“These are all signs that your heart is trying to tell you something,” says Dr. Swales.

But you’ll need the specialists at the Women’s Heart Wellness Program to interpret those signs.

“When a woman first visits us,” says Dr. Swales, “we’ll use a gender-specific screening tool to look for risk factors specific to women. Then you’ll be seen by a board-certified cardiologist for a symptom assessment and a comprehensive physical exam. We’ll create an individualized and personalized treatment plan based on your symptoms and diagnosis.”

The Women’s Heart Wellness Program provides care for women with all cardiac conditions, among them:

“We’re trying to catch heart disease in women as soon as possible,” says Dr. Swales. “The earlier we start to treat the disease process the better the outcome.”

Women’s Heart Wellness