Sharon L. Mulvagh, M.D., is a clinical investigative noninvasive cardiologist exploring new ultrasound technologies to evaluate ischemic heart disease and coronary blood flow.
Dr. Mulvagh's current research program merges her clinical focus on heart disease in women, including those with diabetes and autoimmune disorders, with her expertise in novel imaging techniques: myocardial contrast echocardiography for assessment of alterations in myocardial perfusion and coronary flow reserve and noninvasive measures of endothelial function (evaluation of peripheral reactive hyperemia).
Ongoing studies seek to utilize these techniques to further the understanding of sex-specific differences and metabolic alterations in the development and diagnosis of early atherosclerosis in microvascular and macrovascular ischemic heart disease, with subsequent translation to clinical applications.
- Contrast echocardiography and new ultrasound imaging technology for the noninvasive assessment of ventricular blood pool, myocardial perfusion, and coronary vascular anatomy and physiology, under altered metabolic conditions. Dr. Mulvagh has numerous research projects involving the assessment of contrast echocardiography to assess myocardial perfusion using new ultrasound imaging modalities in cardiovascular disease states.
- Women and heart disease. Dr. Mulvagh is interested in the evaluation and primary and secondary prevention of heart disease in women, risk stratification by noninvasive testing, and treatment of women with heart disease. Her team is piloting new approaches to cardiovascular risk reduction through adherence to healthy lifestyle choices for nutrition and physical activity. Through collaborative studies with the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) team, she has explored the effects of menopausal hormone therapy on the vascular system. Since women are disproportionately affected by autoimmune disorders and certain cancers, Dr. Mulvagh has established investigations furthering understanding of the novel subspecialty focus areas of cardiorheumatology and cardio-oncology.
- Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). Dr. Mulvagh contributes her expertise in women's heart health to a multidisciplinary team carrying out patient-initiated research regarding SCAD, a nonatherosclerotic abnormality of the heart artery where process obstruction to blood flow to the heart occurs due to splitting of the vessel walls. Previously considered rare, recent published reports and the experience of the research team suggest that SCAD is likely the major cause of myocardial infarction in women under age 40.
- Cardiovascular response to microgravity and adaptation during space flight. Dr. Mulvagh has collaborated with NASA scientists to study the acute and chronic physiological adaptations of the cardiovascular system to weightlessness in space and to develop countermeasures to orthostatic intolerance induced by microgravity.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Mulvagh's research goal is to employ novel imaging techniques to better understand how ischemic heart disease develops differently in women and men and to further understand the impact of altered metabolic and hormonal states. This will lead to improved diagnosis and treatment options for heart patients of both sexes.
- Minnesota chapter leader, Women in Cardiology Section, American College of Cardiology, 2014-present
- Associate director, Preventive Cardiology program, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic, 2014-present
- Editorial board, JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, 2013-present
- Director, Women's Heart Clinic, Mayo Clinic, 2011-present
- Honorary fellow, International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences, 2014
- Third Harold Buchwald Memorial lecturer, International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences, 2011