Alexandra Lansky, MD, is a cardiologist who cares for patients both in and out of the hospital, including those in the coronary intensive care unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. She has special expertise in complex coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and valve disease, as well as in women’s heart disease.
Dr. Lansky is the director of the Yale Heart and Vascular Clinical Research Program and the Cardiovascular Research Group, which specializes in national and international cardiovascular clinical trials with specific expertise in the evaluation of interventional devices.
“The decision to be a doctor was inherent in me. No one in my family is a doctor. It was just something that I wanted to do,” Dr. Lansky says. She began her career two decades ago, training in interventional cardiology right around the time doctors were starting to learn about how the technique could help many patients avoid open heart surgery. The minimally invasive approach inserts a catheter, usually in the groin, and threads it up to the heart to replace a defective valve, or to use a balloon to open a blocked artery and place a stent. “Catheterization has completely transformed the way we approach and take care of these patients,” Dr. Lansky says.
As options for catheterization began to improve, she decided to stop performing the procedures and put more time into studying them. “I believe research and clinical care are complementary, so I do both. I think the balance is critical,” she says. Recently comparative studies of surgery versus these new technologies are showing that catheterization is outstanding—even better than surgery in many instances, she says.
Other parts of being a doctor haven’t changed, says Dr. Lansky, adding that one of the best parts of her day as a clinician is getting to know her patients, sometimes over a period of years. She counsels them on lifestyle modifications to help them maintain their heart health. “You develop very good, long-term relationships with patients and you get to know them in wonderful ways,” Dr. Lansky says.
A professor of cardiology at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Lansky holds a dual appointment as chair of cardiovascular research at Queen Mary University in London as part of a Yale and London-based Barts Heart Centre transatlantic research collaboration. She also chaired the American Heart Association Statement on Interventions in Women. In addition, she has served as principal investigator on many national and international studies.