April 4, 2018

CON’s McSweeney Looks for Indelible Impact with Cardiovascular Professorship


Jean McSweeney

April 4, 2018 | There is a reason Jean C. McSweeney has become synonymous with women’s cardiovascular research. She is devoted to the work and its significance to women.


She has forged memories and connections with many participants from her several studies. Their experiences stick with her and propel her to do more to address the No. 1 cause of death in women in Arkansas and the country, cardiovascular disease.


“I cannot let go of women’s cardiovascular health,” McSweeney said March 12 at a UAMS ceremony investing her into the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Professorship. “There have been hundreds and hundreds of women, each with their own story, telling me to continue this work. It has made me know I was going to pursue this research for the rest of my career.”


McSweeney’s contributions to women’s cardiovascular health are evident.


In 2003, she published the first study that showed women often have different symptoms than men for heart attacks. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Nursing Research, American Heart Association, Sigma Theta Tau International and American Nurses Foundation.


She was the first UAMS faculty member to serve on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils which advises the NIH director. She also served on the National Institute of Nursing Research’s advisory council. McSweeney is a Fellow in the American Heart Association.


In 2016, she chaired the first Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association wholly devoted to treating women’s cardiovascular disease. The statement, published in AHA’s premier journal, Circulation, reported more research, better diagnostic equipment and earlier recognition of symptoms is needed to better identify and treat women with cardiovascular disease.


Now, McSweeney, a professor and associate dean for research in the UAMS College of Nursing, is focused on putting those findings into action as holder of the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Professorship.


She sees the professorship as the next logical step in impacting clinical practice and outcomes for women with cardiovascular disease, as well as a way to solidify those improvements forever.


“I can’t describe how much this means to me, personally. This is a way to continue the work we’ve done and build upon it,” she said. “Years from now, I hope to see this professorship has impacted clinical practice so women have their symptoms recognized early and immediately receive treatment.”


The ceremony and celebration behind her, McSweeney said she is focused on educating women and health care providers throughout the state on symptom recognition, risk factors and how to modify risk factors, as well as continuing to cultivate research teams at UAMS and attracting new researchers to campus.


“Heart disease is an important issue in Arkansas with a multitude of residents living with it every day,” said McSweeney. “Women in Arkansas can assist us in finding solutions through participating in research studies.”


McSweeney said the UAMS Translational Institute’s Research Registry provides an opportunity for Arkansans to help in research efforts and can impact her efforts to entice researchers to UAMS.


McSweeney said she’s driven by the opportunity this professorship provides UAMS and the College of Nursing to continue to be a leader in women’s cardiovascular health. The fact that more than 170 individuals funded the professorship — typically funded by one donor or a small group of donors — is the icing on top.


“It warms my heart,” McSweeney said. “It emphasizes the perceived and real importance of this research to people across the state. This work is very important to people and they understand why it is needed.”