Tag Archives: Cardiovascular Disease

Tracy Stevens, M.D., ’90, a leading advocate for women’s heart heath

UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Reflections Throughout 50 Years

Since 1971, nearly 4,000 physicians and health care professionals across the United States have received their degrees from the UMKC School of Medicine. As a leadup to our Gold Jubilee 50th anniversary event on June 4, we are spotlighting some of our alumni who embody the school’s spirit and excellence in medical education and patient care.

Today, we catch up with Tracy L. Stevens, M.D., F.A.C.C., ’90, medical director of the Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center, recognized as the first women’s heart center of its kind in the United States, and recipient of the Inaugural Woman’s Day Red Dress Award.

Where are you now and what is your current role?

I work at the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, as a member of Saint Luke’s Cardiovascular Consultants. I also serve as the Julia Irene Kauffman Endowed Chair for Women’s Cardiovascular Health, the Ben D. McCallister, M.D., Community Ambassador, and as a professor of medicine with the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

What is your primary focus in medicine?

As medical director of Saint Luke’s Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center, I focus on promoting women’s cardiovascular health. I have been involved in two White House events including the proclamation signing by President George W. and Mrs. Laura Bush in support of the Heart Truth Campaign.  I have also been the host to Mrs. Bush at Saint Luke’s on three occasions.

Dr. Stevens is the recipient of the WomenHeart Wenger Award for her contributions to women’s heart health. She serves on the Heart Health Advisory Board for Woman’s Day, Scientific Advisory Council for WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and is a National Spokesperson for the American Heart Association.

What is one of your fondest memory of your time as a student at the School of Medicine?

My fondest memory would be the HOURS AND HOURS of rounding with my docent, Dr. James Stanford!

What is the greatest lesson you learned as a student?

The best lesson that I learned as a students was to ALWAYS advocate for your patient.

Can you share something about you that people may not know?

I love to wear ball caps and spend time at our “farm!”

Grant-funded project will help Kansas City community take charge of its own vascular health

School of Medicine researcher Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., is leading a grant-funded project to raise community awareness of peripheral arterial disease.

A few years ago, Kansas City received the federal CHOICE grant to revitalize one of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods. Now, an effort by UMKC School of Medicine researcher Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., will support residents of the Paseo Gateway and surrounding neighborhoods to build on existing efforts to flourish in their communities.

With the backing of a new two-year, $300,000 Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute grant, Smolderen, is leading a project to raise community awareness of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and the cardiovascular risks associated with it.

More than 8.5 million Americans live with PAD, a narrowing of the peripheral arteries that occurs most commonly in the legs and often causes pain while walking. African Americans particularly are at risk of late diagnosis and related leg amputations in part because of a low awareness of the disease.

The project focuses on the Gateway Plaza area, specifically the Pendleton Heights, Paseo West and Independence Plaza neighborhoods that have some of the lowest life expectancy rates in Kansas City and Jackson County with their widely diverse communities including a growing immigrant population.

“These are the areas where people have to grapple with financial hardship,” said Smolderen, an assistant professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics. “Violence is a factor, poor housing conditions. These are typically overlooked areas that are dealing with a lot of challenges at the same time.”

Previous data from the American Heart Association also shows that knowledge and resources to improve vascular health are not widely accessible in inner-city neighborhoods characterized by these challenges, further predisposing them to PAD complications such as amputations.

The plan is to increase the awareness of PAD by presenting information to the community through a multi-faceted dissemination campaign including seminars and artwork by neighborhood artists promoting vascular health. Symposiums with community members will also serve to determine what issues impacting vascular disease are most concerning to those in their neighborhoods. Project and neighborhood leaders will then work together to create a list of available community resources that address the identified barriers. Common issues include insufficient resources to stop smoking, which is the leading risk factor for the disease, and needed exercise programs and facilities.

“We’re going to work with the community, not telling them what to do, but sharing with them what we have found and then let them tell us how we can help make connections in the community to implement that knowledge and do something with it that serves their needs,” Smolderen said.

The project will begin this summer with a workshop bringing together a steering committee that includes an array of collaborators from UMKC, Saint Luke’s Hospital, the UMKC Health Sciences District, Storytellers, Inc., the Paseo Gateway Initiative, the local American Heart Association, and PAD experts.

Students interested in community outreach activities are also being invited to contact Smolderen about potential research internships regarding the program.

She said the project will work in lockstep with the city as it continues to implement resources from the stimulus grant it received in 2015 to transform the neighborhood.

In addition to creating awareness and promoting cardiovascular health, Smolderen said the program could also become a template for those in other cities and neighborhoods to engage their city stakeholders and public health officials to focus on health problems facing their communities.

“If you enforce things on people, you only create resistance,” she said. “This is really to help people discover their own autonomy, creativity, and to find needed resources in their own community.”