Lauren Baldassarre, MD, is a cardiologist at Yale Medicine and director of the Cardio-Oncology Program at the Yale Cancer Center.
Cardio-oncology is a relatively new field that helps patients manage the cardiac side effects of therapies they’re receiving for cancer treatment (such as chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy). The goal of the cardio-oncology program is to diagnose and treat those side effects as early as possible.
Dr. Baldassarre first became interested in cardio-oncology during her cardiology fellowship, and she decided to pursue and complete an additional year of fellowship training at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. That fellowship focused on advanced cardiac imaging with cardiac MRI and caring for cancer patients with cardiac questions or complications. It was a way for Dr. Baldassarre to combine her interests in women’s heart disease and cardiac imaging, and introduced her to the field of cardio-oncology. In 2013, she arrived at Yale Medicine and became the director of the cardio-oncology program in 2015.
As the director, Dr. Baldassarre’s goals have been to offer care to any patient who might benefit from cardiovascular risk assessment and monitoring not only at the main hospital, but also at Yale Medicine satellite sites, and to expand research and clinical trials that investigate ways to diagnose cardiac complications from cancer earlier.
When meeting with new patients, Dr. Baldassarre takes a thorough history and physical and completes a cardiovascular risk assessment based on the type of cancer therapy they will be receiving. Patients can also expect to undergo some cardiac imaging as part of that risk assessment.
“I really hope to be able to put patients at ease,” says Dr. Baldassarre. “I know that patients are concerned especially when they’re going through so much already.” She walks them through established monitoring and treatments protocols, which may be used to prevent complications or treat them, if they do arise.
In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Baldassarre researches the cardiac side effects of immunotherapy, one of the most promising therapies for cancer. She is also an assistant professor (cardiology) at Yale Medicine.