Carlos Mena, MD, is an interventional cardiologist and director of the peripheral vascular disease program and the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Yale Medicine. He specializes in using minimally invasive procedures to treat conditions in the heart and peripheral vascular system.
Minimally invasive procedures allow doctors to deliver therapies to patients through a catheter threaded through a specific artery, rather than opening the patient’s chest and performing open heart surgery. These procedures allow patients to recover faster and return to their normal lives more quickly. “It’s very gratifying that we’re able to completely change someone’s outcomes within minutes,” says Dr. Mena.
Dr. Mena arrived at Yale for his medical internship in 2001 and stayed on as a resident. He continued at Yale as a fellow, and was recruited to run the vascular medicine program in 2010. Over the years, Dr. Mena has built up the program’s clinical and research programs to be one of the best in the country.
In order to treat his patients effectively, Dr. Mena believes in developing strong relationships with them so that they can feel comfortable telling him about their conditions and asking him questions. “I want them to know that I genuinely care,” he says. “It also allows patients to really get to what is bothering them, what the real issues are, and how best to fix them.”
Dr. Mena also believes in explaining conditions and treatments in easy-to-understand language. As an example, a metaphor that Dr. Mena likes to use for himself is that of a plumber. “That’s something patients can relate to,” he says. “There is a blockage, and I’m going to do it like a plumber would—we’ll go in and fix it.”
In addition to treating patients, Dr. Mena and his colleagues at the peripheral vascular disease program conduct research on treatments for carotid stenosis, a condition that narrows the blood vessels in the neck that carry blood from the heart to the brain, and limb ischemia, a condition that causes severe blockage in the arteries of the lower extremities.