Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. In Harris County it takes more lives than cancer, killing 174.6 people per 100,000, according to a 2019 Houston Health Department report.
But Texas Heart Institute CAO/CFO Howard K. Schramm* believes most people don’t actually know how dangerous the disease, which encompasses many disorders, such as chronic heart failure and rheumatic fever, really is.
“I don’t think it’s top of mind to a lot of people,” he says, “that cardiovascular issues cause the most deaths in the United States.”
Educating people about this is the goal of the THI through its ongoing research and brand-new medical group.
On October 1 THI launched the Texas Heart Medical Group with the goal of providing “world-class care to our patients,” says Schramm. The practice employs 12 cardiologists, whose subspecialties include interventional cardiology, peripheral vascular disease, and electrophysiology.
Famous heart surgeon Denton Cooley founded the Texas Heart Institute in 1962 to focus on cardiovascular research and medical education. For the past 58 years, the institute has done just that, earning an international reputation for itself—U.S. News & World Report ranks it as one of the top 20 heart hospitals in the country. But in spite of that and the fact THI has a professional staff of 80 physicians, the research institute has technically never directly treated a patient clinically, until now.
The idea to open a medical group within the historically research-only institute was first floated a year ago, but Covid-19 slowed those plans. A lot of people pushed off seeing their doctors, Schramm says, but that is beginning to change, and the time was ripe to launch the medical group.
Currently it operates out of St. Luke’s Medical Tower. As time progresses, Schramm says, THI hopes to expand the practice to include 40 physicians, including surgeons, in the next one to two years, as well as open offices in the suburbs for folks who don’t want to drive into the Texas Medical Center.
In the meantime, the medical group hopes to capitalize on THI’s well-known name and extend the institute’s mission, which, Schramm says, is “to try to advance, either through research or patient care, the reduction of the devastating effects of cardiovascular health issues.”'
*A previous version of the story included a misspelling of Howard K. Schramm's name. It has been corrected.