Penny Anderson Women’s Cardiovascular Center

Join us to advance the understanding of heart and vascular disease in women, how to prevent it and how to optimize patient care.

 Now is the time to #ResearchHer.

Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and respiratory diseases combined. 

When it comes to heart disease, women are under-studied, under-diagnosed, and under-treated. In fact, women’s heart health research is 35 years behind that of men’s heart health research.

Through her extraordinary gift, Penny Anderson is making it possible for MHIF to commit to closing this gap and eliminating the disparities that exist in health care delivery and outcomes between men and women by creating the Penny Anderson Women’s Cardiovascular Center.

Learn more about Penny Anderson’s transformational gift here.

Natasha was 36 weeks pregnant with her third child when she suffered a heart attack. She was diagnosed with a congenital condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

Featured Highlights

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

One-third of all cardiovascular outcomes are related to mental health. That’s why it’s so critical to take a proactive strategy to managing your well-being. Dr. Jordan Baechler shares practical tips, inspiration, and some of her personal practices and experiences. Read more here.

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) Webinar Series

MHIF has been hosting a unique webinar series for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) survivors, featuring patients and physicians sharing experiences and perspectives, including on mental health, exercise and SCAD interventions and therapies. You can access recordings of past webinars here.

Penny and Lee Anderson Donated $5 Million

Penny and Lee Anderson committed the largest donation in our Foundation’s history, a gift that will be dedicated entirely to women’s heart health.

Penny and Lee Anderson’s donation will help fund research and education on women’s cardiovascular health. In honor of this transformational contribution, our new women’s heart health research program will be named the Penny Anderson Women’s Cardiovascular Center.

Learn more and watch their video story here >>

SCAD Survivor Kristen Bowlds, on the Today Show!

Congratulations to SCAD survivor, patient, mom and tireless advocate, Kristen Bowlds, for reaching a national break in her efforts to continue raising awareness of Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) and the critical need for more women’s heart health research! Learn more and watch her interview on the TODAY show here.

Dr. Betty Grey on SCAD

WCCO interviewed Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation researcher, Dr. Elizabeth Grey, about a certain type of heart attack that is striking a growing number of women in their late 30s and 40s. It’s called SCAD — spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Dr. Grey states, “They are different from a typical heart attack…there is a spontaneous tear in an artery that is apparently healthy.”  She goes on to say that this type of heart attack can affect women as young as 20 and as old as 80. Research is currently looking at predisposition and prevention.

Meet Jamie

For parents expecting a baby, excitement and uncertainty are a normal part of the journey. For new parents Jamie and David, however, they never imagined the situation they would face. When Jamie was 31 weeks pregnant with their son Carson, they learned that not only did she need to give birth via C-section nine weeks early, but simultaneously undergo open heart surgery to replace a heart valve and save her life.
Women’s Heart Health Information

Patients and Families

Heart disease is one of the greatest threats to women. You don’t have to be alarmed, but you should be aware of your cardiovascular disease risks and symptoms. 

Here’s what you need to know >>

Women’s Heart Health for Professionals

Let’s help women everywhere get the best care for their heart. Access professional resources below, and learn about our BROACH initiative (Broadening the Role of OB-GYNs in Assessing Cardiovascular Health).

Publications & Lectures >> 

Learn about our BROACH Initiative >>

News & Events 


Dr. Retu Saxena elected next President of the Minnesota Chapter of the American College of Cardiology

Dr. Retu Saxena's term will begin in March 2022 and she will serve a concomitant role as Minnesota representative on the American College of Cardiology Board of Governors.


Celebrating American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month! Learn more about the events you can get involved in to celebrate Heart Month.


Expertise in Microvascular Imaging and Important Applications in Women’s Heart Health

The role that microvascular arteries may play is a growing area of study, particularly in women’s heart disease. It may require more aggressive treatment to improve outcomes and decrease the risk of developing more aggressive heart disease later. This is where special expertise in imaging becomes important.


Hope, Health and Humor: At-Home Edition

By participating in our Hope, Health & Humor - at home edition party, you can help us inspire important women in your life to take care of their hearts, learn more about women’s heart health and help us raise awareness of the #ResearchHer cause.

Signup For Our Newsletter

Stay up to date on MHIF news, events and the latest information on heart disease treatment and prevention.

Meet Our Team 

Courtney Jordan Baechler, MD, MS

Courtney Jordan Baechler, MD, MS

Medical Director, Emerging Science Centers

Dr. Courtney Jordan Baechler serves as program director for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation’s emerging science centers including women’s cardiovascular research, prevention and global outreach. She is a general cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute® who is passionate about a healthy state of wellbeing — body, mind and spirit — and is a national leader in integrative medicine and wellness. Dr. Jordan Baechler previously served as the Assistant Commissioner for Health Improvement for the State of Minnesota and also helped grow and lead the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Allina Health. She has served on the national prevention committee for the American College of Cardiology and the MN Department of Health State and Prevention of Cardiovascular and Stroke Committee. 

Scott Sharkey, MD

Scott Sharkey, MD

Chief Medical Officer & Researcher

Dr. Scott Sharkey is senior consulting cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute® and chief medical officer with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. He is a leading researcher across the spectrum of cardiovascular care, including conditions that disproportionately impact women, such as spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) and Takotsubo Syndrome (also known as Broken Heart Syndrome or Stress Cardiomyopathy), for which he has been leading research since 2001. Dr. Sharkey is frequently interviewed by the media about women’s heart health as well as general heart health.

Elizabeth Grey, MD

Elizabeth Grey, MD

Cardiologist & Researcher

Dr. Elizabeth Grey has been a cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute® since 2004 and has special research interests in women’s heart health (including spontaneous coronary artery dissection), general cardiology, echocardiography, cardio-oncology and nuclear cardiology. She is frequently interviewed by the media about women’s heart health and her passion for bridging the gap in research between men and women. She was recognized as a 2020 Top Doctor in Mpls St. Paul Magazine and is the only female cardiologist ever to serve on the Executive Committee of Minneapolis Heart Institute®.

Retu Saxena, MD

Retu Saxena, MD

Cardiologist & Researcher

Dr. Retu Saxena is a general cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute® with expertise in women’s heart disease, noninvasive imaging and critical care, as well as specific research interests related to cardiovascular risk factors that emerge during pregnancy. She has provided training to ob-gyn and women’s care practitioners to help them better manage risk among their patients as part of MHIF’s BROACH initiative (Broadening the Role of Ob-Gyns in Assessing Cardiovascular Health). Dr. Saxena was recognized as a 2020 Top Doctor in Mpls St. Paul Magazine.

Gretchen Benson, RDN, CDCES

Gretchen Benson, RDN, CDCES

Program Director, Penny Anderson Women’s Cardiovascular Center

Gretchen Benson oversees the women center’s efforts to educate more women about heart disease and its risk factors through a variety of community education events and research studies. She is a frequent speaker at national and regional conferences on women’s heart health, nutrition, diabetes and population health. Ms. Benson was honored as 2014 Young Dietitian of the Year by the Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Susan White, RDN

Susan White, RDN

Program Lead, Women’s Heart Health

Susan White is a registered dietitian nutritionist and serves as the administrative and program lead for prevention and women’s heart health at the Minneapolis Heart Institute®. She is adept at simplifying complex nutrition messages found in the news or research into practical tips for improving heart health and frequently gives community presentations.

Joy Hayes, MS, RDN, CDCES

Joy Hayes, MS, RDN, CDCES

Population Health Specialist

Joy Hayes is a population health specialist with more than 30 years of experience as a dietitian and diabetes educator helping people of all ages and diverse backgrounds with prevention and management of heart disease and diabetes. She has a special interest in women’s heart health and the body, heart and mind connection. Ms. Hayes was honored as 2015 Diabetes Educator of the Year by the Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.

Questions? Reach out to us.

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