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RSW Living Magazine

The Lee Health Heart Institute is Advancing Cardiac Care on the International Stage

Apr 29, 2024 08:00AM ● By Katie Egan

A member of the radiology staff looks at scans of a patient’s heart from a coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) device that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide physicians and patients with detailed, quantitative information about the amount of plaque in the arteries of the heart down to the cubic millimeter. Photo by Shane Antalick Photography.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States and advancements in research and technology are crucial for enabling earlier detection, more effective treatments, and improved prevention strategies. 

The Shipley Cardiothoracic Center at HealthPark Medical Center. Photo by Shane Antalick Photography. 

Sharing cutting-edge research, encouraging collaboration amongst experts and facilitating the adoption of innovative practices in clinical care foster better outcomes for cardiac patients in Southwest Florida and beyond. 

In April, Lee Health Heart Institute physicians and medical teams presented innovative studies and advancements in cardiac care at the prestigious American College of Cardiology conference, highlighting their expertise and commitment to revolutionizing heart care for all. This year, Lee Health physicians are proud to have the highest percentage of abstracts accepted to date. 

"We are dedicated to not only treating cardiovascular disease, but also to finding progressive solutions and advancements as well as advocating for our patients’ overall health and well-being," said chief physician executive for the Lee Health Heart Institute Dr. Malissa Wood. "I think that’s showcased in the number of abstracts we are proud to present this year. The ACC conference provides a platform to inspire innovation to improve cardiac care and enhance patient outcomes, and the Lee Health Heart Institute is proud to be a part of it." 

Leading the Way in Heart Health Education at Lee Health 

Knowing about your heart health prevents heart disease, detecting problems early, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes, improving your quality of life, and providing peace of mind.  

Staying updated on the latest advancements and research in cardiology enables physicians to help patients make informed decisions about their care, accessing cutting-edge treatments and prevention strategies that could improve their outcomes and quality of life.  

Lee Health Physicians at ACC.24 

Dr. Malissa Wood, chief physician executive of the Lee Health Heart Institute. Photo courtesy of Lee Health by Harmon Photographer   

Over three days, several Lee Health physicians presented on a variety of important topics related to heart care: 

  • Dr. Malissa Wood shared her insights into ischemic heart disease, women’s heart health and advocacy for cardiovascular health.  

  • Dr. Richard Chazal, medical director of the Lee Health Heart and Vascular Institute, discussed clinical trials. 

  • Dr. Chazal and medical director of cardiac imaging Dr. Juan Lopez-Mattei presented on prevention and health promotion. 

  • Dr. Erick Burton,, Dr. Lopez-Mattei, Dr. Wood and Dr. Chazal presented on electrophysiology and valvular heart disease.  

  • Cardiologist Dr. Orlando Escarcega, Dr. Lopez-Mattei and Dr. Chazal presented on complex clinical cases, global heart health, SGLT2 inhibitors in heart failure and heart failure and cardiomyopathies. 

  • Dr. Lopez-Mattei shared insights on imaging and when and how to screen for cardiotoxicity.  

Much of Lee Health’s focus highlighted the importance of prevention in combating cardiovascular diseases in communities like Southwest Florida. The knowledge gained from the conference will be brought back to the Lee Health Heart Institute and implemented into patient care and treatments, with the goal of keeping the Southwest Florida community and beyond as heart healthy as possible. 

What is the American College of Cardiology? 

A model prepares to get a scan of their heart to determine how much plaque is in their arteries. The coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) device uses artificial intelligence (AI) to show detailed, quantitative information about the amount of plaque in the arteries of the heart down to the cubic millimeter. Photo by Shane Antalick Photography

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) is dedicated to transforming cardiovascular care and improving heart health. It sets standards, promotes research and provides education and training. Being a member of the ACC signifies a commitment to excellence in cardiology and staying informed of the latest advancements and guidelines in heart care.  

By bringing cutting-edge research and innovative treatments back to Southwest Florida, Lee Health physicians are helping to improve cardiovascular care and improve the heart health of the community. With the knowledge they shared with doctors attending the conference, their research will also transform the care of patients across the globe. 

The Lee Health Heart Institute is the largest heart program in Southwest Florida. Based at HealthPark Medical Center, it specializes in everything from primary and specialty care, advanced cardiac imaging, cardiac rehabilitation and more. 

To schedule an appointment or learn more about the Lee Health Heart Institute, please visit  

Katie Egan is the Media Relations Specialist for Lee Health