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Gretchen L. Wells, MD, PhD

Director, Women’s Heart Program
  • About

    Dr. Gretchen Wells, a native of Birmingham, Ala., earned her medical degree and PhD from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. She then went on to Wake Forest University, where she completed a cardiovascular fellowship and remained on faculty for a number of years. At Wake Forest, she served as director of inpatient cardiology and associate dean for admissions. 



    Dr. Wells serves as director of the Women’s Heart Health program at the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute. At the national level, she is heavily involved in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), an NHLBI-funded study initiated in 1991. This long-term national health study, which enrolled more than 161,000 women between ages 50 and 79 from 1993 to 1998, has identified a number of risk factors and courses of treatment for women for various diseases, including heart disease.



    Dr. Wells’ current research focuses on psychologic attributes (e.g. the role of optimism) contributing to cardiovascular disease outcomes and novel approaches to microvascular disease.

    Personal Statement

    I am a non-invasive cardiologist with expertise in women’s heart health across the lifespan. We know that women have unique cardiac risk factors, some of which are identified in pregnancy. Women also have unique presentations for heart disease. For example, women are at a much higher risk for spontaneous coronary artery dissection (this is where a blood vessel supplying the heart suddenly tears without an explanation) and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (these are people with heart failure, but their studies indicate that the heart squeezes fine). What we do know is that most heart disease is preventable. Even if your lifestyle and health history places you at a high risk for heart disease or if you already have heart disease, effective treatment and lifestyle changes can change its course. For most women, heart disease does not need to shorten their lives. In our program, we partner with women to create an individualized plan to meet their needs.

    Faculty Rank

    Professor of Medicine

    Degree

    University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School, Birmingham

    Residency

    Wake Forest University, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.

    Fellowship

    Cardiology, Wake Forest University, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.

    Certifications and Special Training

    American Board of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine

    National Board of Echocardiography