Ileana Piña, M.D., a Board-certified heart failure transplant cardiologist, is a clinical professor of medicine at Central Michigan University and adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University. She also serves as a Medical Officer in the Food and Drug Administrations’ (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
As a heart failure specialist, the COVID-19 pandemic brought on many concerns to Piña, including how to continue working on clinical trials in the new environment. “As soon as this pandemic began, we’ve been worried about our heart failure patients, because COVID-19 and heart failure have some quite similar symptoms,” Piña said. She used all means at her disposal, including videos and blog posts, to alert patients to the risk factors for heart failure and urge them to continue to follow their treatment plans and take their meds on time.
She has also raised the alarm about the racial and ethnic disparities the pandemic made so obvious. “We have been noticing for a long time that African Americans, for instance, have greater risk factors and greater challenges in access to care and prevalence of certain conditions such as hypertension,” she said. Piña expects that when the pandemic is over the medical community and society as a whole will finally address this disparity.
Piña is an attending physician who also oversees clinical trials. Some of her studies have upturned preconceived notions about women in the medical community and she strives to get more women into clinical trials. Her research interests include transition of care in heart failure patients, and the role of natriuretic peptide-guided management for patients hospitalized for heart failure, biomarkers of myocardial stress and fibrosis in chronic heart failure, and the clinical implications of chronic heart failure phenotypes. In 2017, Piña received the Wenger Award for Excellence in Research, which honors those who make extraordinary contributions to the advancement of women’s heart health in underserved communities. In 2020, she received the Laennec Master Clinician Award from the American Heart Association. She is the author/co-author of more than 250 publications.