Hospital makes history by hiring Waco's first female cardiologist

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Waco has it's first female cardiologist.

Dr. Tram Le, the first female cardiologist in Waco, performs an echocardiogram at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Hillcrest Wednesday. (Photo by Clint Webb)

"It's definitely something that I want to live up to as being the first female cardiologist, being able to serve the patients here and the Waco community as best as I can," said Dr. Tram Le, Invasive Cardiologist at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Hillcrest.

While half of medical students are female, fewer than 20 percent of cardiologists treating adults are women, according to the American College of Cardiology.

"It seems like we have a need here for a woman cardiologist," Le said about Waco. "A lot of my patients, including man and female, seem to feel that woman physicians tend to take more time, are a little more empathetic and listen to their concerns."

Le, 35, and her family moved to Texas from Georgia; she grew up and went to medical school in Augusta.

"Texas is a very physician-friendly state," she said.

She came to Texas to train at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Temple, doing internal medicine and her residency there before applying for a job in Waco.

"On my interview trail, I just felt so welcomed here, I felt like was at home," she said. "I didn't know until I came to interview for the position--apparently there had not been a female cardiologist in the area...ever."

She started working at BSW - Hillcrest in July 2019.

"The heart just seems to attract me," said Le.

A heart murmur in her youth, which turned out to be a mitral valve prolapse, inspired her to become a cardiologist.

Patients like Polly Clawson are glad that's the career path she chose.

"I was her focus, and that was important to me," said Clawson.

Le was on-call when Clawson suffered an acute heart attack in 2017.

"Like most women, I didn't have the typical center of the chest hurt and the shortness of breath," said Clawson. "I hurt in my left collar bone and my left jaw."

While heart disease is still the number one killer of women and men, Le says women need to take extra precautions.

"Women tend to have more atypical symptoms compared to men, so it's important for them to realize they need to take care of their heart," said Le.

She says mental health, stress, pregnancy and menopause can have a different effect on women 'heart-wise.'

Her best advice for Heart Month, February 2020: take care of yourself.

"Eat healthy, exercise, maintain a healthy weight and control any other medical conditions you have," said Le. "If you can prevent a heart attack from happening, that's much better than treating the heart attack afterward."