Heartfelt success

It was a crazy, hectic day. Just like all the others. People living. People dying. And there was much to do. There was blood to be drawn, labs to check, internal jugular lines to sink deep within a vein.

So begins the introduction to Kathy Magliato’s memoir, “Heart Matters: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon” (Penguin Random House, 2011).

While crazy, hectic days are nothing unusual within the medical profession, what Magliato (Fel ’98) has accomplished throughout her days is inspiring.

The cardiothoracic surgeon, based in Santa Monica, California, and affiliated with multiple hospitals, is in an exclusive group of surgeons trained to perform heart transplants. She also holds an MBA and is working on a patented medical device that could help provide early detection of heart problems, which, she stresses, could save lives. “Heart disease is the number one killer for men and women in the world,” says Magliato. “Yet, it is 80% preventable.”

The novel device is like a blood pressure cuff that performs as a noninvasive, nonimaging tool for measuring and tracking blood vessel health. By revealing early warning signs of heart disease, Magliato believes “this technology potentially opens a window into your vascular health at a time where we can intervene.”

Her memoir—which sheds light on how heart disease kills more women on average than all types of cancer combined—was a New York Times bestseller, both in print and as an ebook. More than 10 years since it was first published, she says she still receives near-daily letters and email reactions, her story having “a far greater impact than I could ever imagine,” she says. It became the inspiration for the 2016 NBC medical drama “Heartbeat.”

She says the book, like her specialty, was a labor of love; and Magliato, married to Nicholas Nissen (Fel ’98), dedicated it to her two sons—”whose hugs and kisses at the end of each challenging day heal my heart,” she writes.

Read more from the Winter 2022/23 issue.