The UC Davis Women's Cardiovascular Medicine Program was established in June 1994 by cardiologist Amparo C. Villablanca to address the lack of awareness that heart disease is the leading killer of women. The program has four major focus areas: patient care, education, research and advocacy.

This pioneering program — one of the few of its kind in the United States — has been singled out for distinction by the governor of California for its unique, interdisciplinary approach to heart care that integrates primary and specialty health services. The program is also linked with a variety of community organizations, medical groups and government agencies in resolving the cardiovascular health concerns of women, expanding awareness among physicians and patients about the risks of heart disease among women, and decreasing cardiovascular disease risk and mortality for women.

The UC Davis Women's Cardiovascular Medicine Program and Clinic was established in 1994 and is one of a few dedicated women's heart programs nationally. Directed by Amparo Villablanca, the program's aims are as follows:

  • Raise awareness of the impact of heart disease in women's health
  • Educate health-care professionals, patients and the community
  • Provide state-of-the-art cardiac services for women (who may require a different diagnostic and treatment approach than men) in an innovative, interdisciplinary, comprehensive, supportive and cost-effective setting
  • Support gender-specific research involving women who have been traditionally under-represented in medical research studies

Clinic staff and physicians

A major strength of the Women's Cardiovascular Medicine Program is the dedication and commitment of its staff to improving women's health. The program is composed primarily of female faculty, academic physicians and experienced nurse specialists. Clinical expertise among the program's health-care providers is extensive and encompasses cardiovascular disease, community medicine, international health, geriatrics, ethics, psychiatry, preventive and emergency medicine, gynecology, general internal medicine and primary care.

Contact Us

For an appointment, call 916-734-1966 or the UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine: 916-734-5513 or 530-752-0718. For information or patient referrals, call 1-800-2UCDAVIS (1-800-282-3284).

Cardiovascular disease: The silent enemy

Although breast cancer has been widely perceived as a woman's most feared health enemy, more women in the U.S. die of heart disease than of all cancers combined. Heart disease in women is largely under-recognized; typically, a woman is older than a man when she exhibits symptoms, which are often more subtle, making detection and diagnosis difficult. As a result, cardiovascular disease in women is frequently underdiagnosed and undertreated, and many women fail to receive interventions that could save their lives.

The key to reversing this trend lies in preventing the risk factors that contribute to heart disease — and increasing awareness of new therapies which can lower the incidence of the disease.

The UC Davis Women's Cardiovascular Medicine Program strives to enhance awareness of the importance of women's heart health among patients, healthcare providers and policymakers through a variety of educational tools, seminars, classes and events. Information is available on nutrition, hormone replacement therapy, hypertension, risk factors, exercise, medications, osteoporosis prevention and more. Individual teaching sessions, written materials, brochures and educational videos are also available.

The UC Davis Women's Cardiovascular Medicine Program is a nationally recognized model for women's heart care and the first program of its kind in the nation. The research expertise of the program faculty ranges from prestigious, large-scale national clinical trials to laboratory studies of the cellular and molecular foundations of heart disease in women.

UC Davis was one of the clinical centers in the country participating in the Women's Health Initiative study. Other research projects have investigated the role of sex steroid hormones on the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis, antioxidants and estrogen in cholesterol uptake, soy estrogens in lowering cholesterol, hormone replacement therapy in platelet function and hormonal regulation of vascular genes.

Participating in National Research Projects

To find out more and learn how you can participate in a research study, contact the UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at 530-752-0718.

Click here to read about our past research projects.

Sandra Bugalski with her son © UC Regents

“Physical activity is key to heart health. I suggest walking wherever and whenever you can. Simply walking in my neighborhood regularly has markedly improved my heart function – and my life.”

Sandra Bugalski
(pictured with her son)
— spontaneous coronary dissection

Delilah Hendrix © UC Regents

“Take the warning signs of heart disease seriously so you can be there for those who love you. Even small changes in how much you move and what you eat can make big differences in how you feel.”

Delilah Hendrix
— high blood pressure and high cholesterol

Melissa Scanland © UC Regents

“Because of the nature of my condition, it wasn't imperative that I change my diet. However, I do watch my hydrogenated oils now. I eat whole grains, tofu and lean turkey. I even wear more sunscreen.”

Melissa Scanland
— heart valve surgery

Sandra Smoley © UC Regents

“Familiarize yourself with the eight risk factors for women's cardiovascular disease and be proactive in preventing their onset.”

Sandra Smoley
— multiple cardiac risk factors

Grace Sugiyama © UC Regents

“My heart is definitely stronger, and so are my legs. I've never felt better. My advice is exercise.”

Grace Sugiyama
— bypass surgery

UC Davis Red Dress Collection

As part of a unique partnership between the UC Davis Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program and the UC Davis Department of Design, fashion design students create a collection of red dresses to raise awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. Each year in February, new designs are unveiled at the UC Davis Women’s Heart Care Education and Awareness Forum, which is held in Sacramento during National Heart Month. Click here to learn more about the program. Check our red dress collection by year below.

2021   2020   2019   2018

2017   2016    2015   2014

2013   2012    2011    2010 



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