The American Heart Association’s Council on Clinical Cardiology has honored renowned Emory cardiologist Nanette Wenger, MD, with its highest accolade, the James B. Herrick Award, for her profound impact on clinical cardiology practice. Wenger is a professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology, Emory University School of Medicine, and former chief of cardiology at Grady Memorial, where she has worked to change the lives of patients for more than 50 years.
Wenger received the award at the 2011 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting, where she delivered the Herrick Lecture titled, “Women and Coronary Heart Disease a Century After Herrick: Understudied, Underdiagnosed, and Undertreated.” The award and lecture are named for pioneering physician James B. Herrick, the author of history’s first clinical description of coronary disease.
Wenger has contributed immeasurably to the field of cardiology, particularly heart disease in women. Wenger was among the first physicians to focus on women’s heart disease and to evaluate the different risk factors and features of the condition in women and men. Her pioneering and innovative research in gender differences in cardiovascular disease has influenced both health professionals and the public about these differences in disease development, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.
A native of New York City and a graduate of Hunter College and Harvard Medical School, Wenger received her medical and cardiology training at Mount Sinai Hospital before coming to Emory University School of Medicine and Grady Memorial Hospital in 1958. Since then she has been a trailblazer in the field of cardiology as author and co-author of more than 1,400 scientific and review articles and book chapters.
Wenger co-authored the 1993 landmark publication in the New England Journal of Medicine that called attention to the fact that heart disease in women was ubiquitous, often overlooked, and usually inadequately managed. The article aggressively addressed the prejudice that heart disease was solely a man’s disease.
Wenger remains one of the most outspoken and best-known champions for women with cardiac disorders. Thanks to her clinical impact we know that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, accounting for 38 percent of all female deaths– more than all forms of cancer combined.
Wenger helped write the American Heart Association’s 2007 Guidelines for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Women and the recent 2011 update, Effectiveness-Based Guidelines for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women. She is a past vice-president of the American Heart Association, past governor for Georgia of the American College of Cardiology and a past-president of the Georgia Heart Association.
Wenger has served as a member and frequently chairperson of over 500 committees, scientific advisory boards, task forces, and councils of the American Medical Association, the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the Society of Geriatric Cardiology. In 2010, the Georgia Commission on Women honored Wenger with its prestigious Georgia Woman of the Year Award.
Most recently, Wenger has focused her efforts on raising the consciousness of the U.S. and international cardiology communities concerning heart disease in the elderly.