Women's Heart Health Curriculum for Cardiology Residency Pilot Program

Cardio Residency Pilot Program Header Image

A pilot program on the development and implementation of a formal Women’s Cardiovascular Health and Cardio-Obstetrics Curriculum for Adult Cardiology Residency Training Programs in Canada.

The Need

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death in women in Canada and worldwide. Well-established cardio-metabolic risk factors for CVD remain under-diagnosed and under-treated in women and sex-specific risk enhancers of CVD, such as hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, polycystic ovarian syndrome, premature menopause, among others, remain under-recognized.

Women are also under-represented in clinical trials, making it challenging to advance care and improve outcomes. Even after establishing a diagnosis, women are less likely to receive guideline-directed medical therapy for many cardiac diseases. 

The landscape of cardiovascular pathology in women is continually evolving, which adds to the challenge of providing the best possible care for our patients. Some examples include:

  • Women with complex congenital heart disease that now live into their reproductive years
  • Increased prevalence, and improved survival of breast cancer, leaving more women at risk of radiation and chemotherapy-related cardiotoxicity
  • Emerging role for cardio-obstetrics teams

Education of healthcare providers is paramount, and starting with trainees is essential

Cardiology residency training programs must provide rigorous, standardized, and comprehensive education on women’s cardiovascular health. They provide clinical and research exposure in order to adequately prepare future cardiologists to provide excellent care for women with cardiovascular disease and to help close the knowledge gap on sex-specific cardiovascular risk modifiers and outcomes. 

Providing adequate training exposure to cardiology trainees will allow them to feel more confident in the prevention and care of CVD in women. It will provide the foundational knowledge required to ace licensing exams (such as the Royal College Examination, where testing on cardiovascular disease in women is ubiquitous, including cardiac disease in pregnancy), helping trainees become excellent, well-rounded cardiologists in the future. 

The Goal

Conducting a pilot program locally will be a strong stepping stone for nationwide adoption of the curriculum to all adult cardiology residency programs across the country, and internationally. It also creates an opportunity to build capacity and transform learners into teachers, and expand and adapt our proposed curriculum to the needs of other related disciplines including internal medicine and family medicine.

Program Highlights

The pilot program spans the three years of the adult cardiology residency training program and includes:

  • 25 - 30 hours of multi-modality teaching sessions
  • Exposure to leaders in the field from North America 
  • Post-course examination with questions in a boards-like format
  • Access to all recorded sessions online for personal review 
  • Course evaluation after each session


  1. To support the widespread implementation of this dedicated curriculum across all adult cardiology residency training programs, our team is conducting a National Survey of Cardiologists and Cardiology Trainees on Training and Exposure in Women’s Cardiovascular Health and Cardio-Obstetrics.
  2. The pilot program provides a unique opportunity to connect with experts in the field and foster educational, clinical, and research opportunities for trainees. Along with the pilot program, our team will work towards creating a dynamic database of clinical exposures (such as electives) and research opportunities available for trainees across Canada and the US, as available. 
  3. Our team is working on incorporating simulation-based learning experiences to the pilot program.
  4. Knowledge-sharing is important to us and our team is working on providing an open-access, free, user-friendly online platform with our content.

Preliminary Topics and Speakers

Year 1:

Curriculum Overview and 10 things to know about Cardio-Obstetrics 

  • Dr. Maria Agustina Lopez Laporte, cardiology resident at University of Ottawa Heart Institute 

Female-specific factors influencing cardiovascular risk across the lifespan 

  • Dr. Erin Michos, Johns-Hopkins

INOCA: When to suspect and how to address 

  • Dr. Christine Pacheco, Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal

Chronic inflammatory conditions and cardiovascular health

  • Dr. Paula Harvey, University of Toronto 

Sex differences in cardiovascular disease 

  • Dr. Martha Gulati, Cedars-Sinai

MINOCA/INOCA/ANOCA and role of cardiac MRI 

  • Dr. Judy Luu, McGill University 

Adult Congenital Heart Disease in women during pregnancy

  • Dr. Doreen DeFaria Yeh, Massachusetts General Hospital

Approach to chest pain with non obstructive coronaries in women

  • Dr. Amélie Paquin, fellow at Cedars-Sinai 

Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and impact on cardiovascular risk

  • Dr. Natalie Dayan, McGill University Health Centre

Cardiovascular care of the obstetric patient

  • Dr. Habibat Garuba, The Ottawa Hospital 

Ischemic heart disease in pregnancy 

  • Dr. Malissa Wood, Massachusetts General Hospital

Pregnancy-associated acute cardiovascular morbidity

  • Dr. Isabelle Malhamé, McGill University Health Centre

Year 2 and 3: (coming soon)

Contact us

If interested in learning more about this pilot program, contact us at cwhhc@ottawaheart.ca


  1. Vogel B, Acevedo M, Appelman Y, et al. The Lancet Women and cardiovascular disease Commission: reducing the global burden by 2030. Lancet 2021; 397: 2385-2438. 20210516. DOI: 10.1016/s0140-6736(21)00684-x.  
  2. Norris CM, Yip CYY, Nerenberg KA, et al. State of the Science in Women's Cardiovascular Disease: A Canadian Perspective on the Influence of Sex and Gender. J Am Heart Assoc 2020; 9: e015634. 20200217. DOI: 10.1161/jaha.119.015634.
  3. Norris CM, Yip CYY, Nerenberg KA, et al. Introducing the Canadian Women's Heart Health Alliance ATLAS on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management of Cardiovascular Diseases in Women. CJC Open 2020; 2: 145-150. 20200222. DOI: 10.1016/j.cjco.2020.02.004.
  4. Jaffer S, Foulds HJA, Parry M, et al. The Canadian Women's Heart Health Alliance ATLAS on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Women-Chapter 2: Scope of the Problem. CJC Open 2021; 3: 1-11. 20201015. DOI: 10.1016/j.cjco.2020.10.009.
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  6. Mulvagh SL, Mullen KA, Nerenberg KA, et al. The Canadian Women's Heart Health Alliance Atlas on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Women - Chapter 4: Sex- and Gender-Unique Disparities: CVD Across the Lifespan of a Woman. CJC Open 2022; 4: 115-132. 20210925. DOI: 10.1016/j.cjco.2021.09.013.
  7. Parry M, Van Spall HGC, Mullen KA, et al. The Canadian Women's Heart Health Alliance Atlas on the Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Women - Chapter 6: Sex- and Gender-Specific Diagnosis and Treatment. CJC Open 2022; 4: 589-608. 20220419. DOI: 10.1016/j.cjco.2022.04.002.
  8. Online webinar. Cardio-obstetrics 101 Building a Program. Natalie Bello, Uri Elkayam, Manisha Gandhi, Kathryn Lindley, Ki Park, Nandita Scott, Mary Norine Walsh. American College of Cardiology. Published December 18, 2020. URL: https://www.acc.org/education-and-meetings/meetings/meeting-items/2020/11/10/16/56/webinar-cardio-obstetrics-101 
  9. Lecture at Harvard’s Course - Advancing Cardiovascular Care for Women. Lancet Commission on How to Reduce Global Cardiovascular Disease Burden. Presented by Roxane Mehran, Mount Sinai Professor Of Cardiovascular Clinical Research and Outcomes, Professor of Medicine (Cardiology), and Population Health Science and Policy, Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Research and Clinical Trials, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA. May 20, 2022. Online.