An Indianapolis physician takes the reins of the powerful American College of Cardiology this month.
But it’s a move that’s not all that surprising, if you know Dr. Mary Walsh of St. Vincent Hospital.
“I’m one of the few people who knew what she was going to do at the age of seven,” says Walsh.
An asthma attack when she was 7 years old sent her to the hospital. From then on, she knew medicine was in her future. She was a French literature major at the University of Minnesota and worked as a nurse’s aide for eight years. By the time she finished medical school, it was fairly clear what she would choose as her specialty.
“I think it’s important in medicine to like to think about the disease every day. In my third year of medical school I thought, wow, I really love this. So that really changed my mind away from emergency medicine to cardiology.”
As president of the ACC, Walsh will continue to push for team-based care for heart patients and she’ll lobby for higher cigarette taxes.
“So we know that taxing cigarettes is actually the single most important way that we can lower the smoking rate, even compared to the medications that are available. When we raised the cigarette tax in Indiana, 37,000 Hoosiers quit smoking.”
Walsh has spent a great deal of time outside of Indiana. She’s spoken to physicians in Bangladesh, India, Argentina, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. Through all of this she is a proud wife and mother of two. When her term as president of ACC is up, she’ll return home to Indianapolis to continue practicing medicine.
“Heart failure is a disease that is, can be very grave and also can be treated,” says Walsh. “Not everyone needs a transplant. It’s a real gratifying disease to take care of because some people improve dramatically with medical therapies and some device therapies.”
Walsh is a runner in her off time, and when asked for one bit of advice to stay heart healthy, she recommends exercise.