Amy W. Pollak has put her heart and soul into raising awareness of women’s heart disease and peripheral artery disease.
She chairs the Go Red For Women Luncheon for the American Heart Association’s First Coast Market in Jacksonville, Florida and the Peripheral Vascular Disease Council’s Peripheral Arterial Disease in Women working group, collaborating on an online continuing medical education program to increase provider awareness about PAD.
“It’s been rewarding to do community outreach events and partner with other individuals who are committed to increasing awareness about women’s heart disease and stroke,” said Pollak, who directs the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville’s Women’s Heart Clinic and delivers dozens of talks throughout the year.
“One of the things I love about the AHA is the chance to collaborate with colleagues in many different subspecialties, including cardiology, radiology, vascular surgery and vascular medicine, with the shared goal of wanting to improve patient education, patient outcomes and do collaborative research,” she said.
Pollak, who has long wanted to be a doctor, said one moment catalyzed her decision to pursue cardiology. On the day in 1999 that she earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, her grandmother had a heart attack. She had reported symptoms of atypical angina to her primary care doctor, but the signs were ignored.
“That opened my eyes to how much work there is to be done to prevent heart attack and stroke in women, as well the importance of educating patients and providers on the symptoms of heart disease for women,” said Pollak, who has been an AHA Premium Professional Member since 2012.
“Cardiology is a field where there are always new studies, and opportunities to answer important clinical questions and collaborate with colleagues to help improve patients’ lives,” she said.
Following a four-year cardiology fellowship at the University of Virginia that included advanced cardiac imaging training, Pollak joined the staff there before moving to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Two years ago, she transferred to the clinic in Jacksonville, where she performs cardiac imaging with magnetic resonance imaging, computerized tomography scans and echocardiograms.
Living in Jacksonville has given her ample opportunity to get involved with the local AHA chapter, as well as with the AHA nationally.
“The AHA provides a really fertile ground for collaboration with colleagues, particularly in terms of developing innovative clinical practices, educational programs and collaborative research initiatives,” she said. “The career mentorship through colleagues I’ve met through AHA and the PVD Council has been invaluable in shaping my career progression. In particular, Dr. Alan Hirsch, Dr. Martha Gulati and Dr. Jere Fletcher have been wonderful mentors. The AHA connects us all in the work that we do through the PVD Council and collaborating councils.”
Pollak thrives on the diversity of her job and finds the combination of patient care, education, research and patient advocacy rewarding. In the coming years, she wants to continue building on the progress she’s already made.
“I want to continue to develop some of my research interests of women with microvascular angina and also with peripheral artery disease,” she said. “I also want to continue to develop innovative practice patterns for our outpatient cardiology practice at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, and be a speaker who can be effective at engaging CME talks.”