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A Centenarian Fellow

Dr. Sivaramakrishna Iyer Padmavati, FESC

Dr.Padmavati.jpgShe has had a trailblazing career that spanned generations and guided cardiovascular medicine in India. Dr. Sivaramakrishna Iyer Padmavati became a Fellow of the ESC in 2007 at the age of 90 – that’s right, 90 – making her the most senior Fellow of the ESC.

Dr Padmavati received her medical degree at Rangoon University, the first awarded to a female student, and went on to become India's first woman cardiologist. These were considerable achievements in themselves but they were only the beginning of many firsts.

"She created the whole concept of heart treatment in India from scratch," said Dr Ashok Seth of Fortis Escorts Heart Institute"

In the 1940’s, Dr Padmavati finished her postgraduate studies and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London, and of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.  She then headed off to the United States and joined Johns Hopkins University.  There she trained under Dr Helen Taussig who performed the first surgeries on children born with congenital heart defects.  Remaining in the US, Dr Padmavati spent four years studying under Dr Paul Dudley White at  Harvard Medical School.

Dr Padmavati missed home however, and returned to India in the early 1950’s – but not before a stint in Sweden where she was impressed by Swedish cardiologists pioneering the concept of the echocardiogram, drawing inspiration from equipment used in deep-sea diving.

Back on home soil, Dr Padmavati began carving the way for a new approach to managing cardiovascular disease.  She established India’s first cardiology clinic and catheter lab, the first Indian medical school-based cardiology department, and India’s first heart foundation – educating the public, as well as cardiologists and governments on cardiovascular disease.

Throughout her career, Dr. Padmavati conducted clinical research, publishing more than 300 scientific papers on preventive cardiovascular medicine. As an active proponent of government intervention in regulating cardiovascular disease risk factors, she was passionate in campaigns to curtail fast food and cigarettes. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honors bestowed by the Indian government.

In 1981, at the age of 64, she served as the founding director of the National Heart Institute in Delhi, the premier research and tertiary care heart hospital of the All India Heart Foundation, instrumental in training physicians in preventive cardiology.

Dr Padmavati has survived wars, met India’s founding father, Mahatma Gandhi, and has been part of the changing face of cardiovascular medicine in India for more than 70 years.

Her secret to good health? Walking and daily swimming!


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