RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Only 5 percent of cardiologists across the country are women, and one of those leading doctors practices right here in Richmond.
Dr. Roberta Bogaev has broken through barriers to become a leading heart doctor in Virginia.
“I always tell people that I get a front row seat to watch God’s miracle,” Bogaev said.
It’s a front row seat to an operation that Bogaev now directs. “Dr. Bobby,” as she’s affectionately called, is the medical director of the Bon Secours Advanced Heart Failure Center and Mechanical Circulatory Support Center.
"You develop a bond with someone when they are at such a vulnerable point in their life,” she said.
Besides using cutting edge technology like a thumbnail-sized implant that can tell how much water is in a patient’s lungs, she fosters deep relationships with her patients.
One man Dr. Bogaev treated for 13 years recently sent her a letter thanking her for extending his time with his two daughters, and not treating him “like a number.”
"Thank you Dr. Bobby for your life advice, on how to get my mind ready for the fight,” the letter said.
Bogaev is a native Virginian, graduating medical school at the University of Virginia and becoming one of the first female directors at the Texas Heart Institute. She spent 20 years in Texas in a field dominated by men.
“It was difficult to prove myself," Bogaev said. “I would wake up at 5:30 in the morning to go to work, and sometimes work until 12:30 at night, because I didn’t want to appear weak.”
Bogaev finally came home to Virginia and immediately knew she was meant to be at a faith-driven hospital.
“One of the reasons I was attracted to Bon Secours is because it is led by a team of women,” she said.
Bogaev is at the helm of a center that treats more than 1,300 people. She says a treating a patient’s emotional needs at such a trying time is just as vital as any medicine or operation.
“It’s a calling,” she said. “Many patients who are facing heart failure are also facing the end of their life, and it requires a spiritual healing, as well as a medical healing.”
As for women’s heart disease, Bogaev says cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of women’s deaths in the United States, more than all forms of cancer combined.
She notes women should always trust their instincts, and not delay seeing a doctor if they suspect something is wrong. Often it is women who put their families and others before themselves, and even their health.
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