Ana Barac, MD, PhD
Ana Barac, MD, PhD, is a leader in the emerging field of cardio-oncology, which is focused on improving the care of cancer patients by integrating their treatment with cardio-vascular care. With cancer survival rates improving, it has become clear that this integrated care is important to the long- term success of cancer treatment, which can negatively impact heart health.
Dr. Barac, who specializes in non-invasive cardiology with a focus on cardiac imaging, echocardiography and cardiac MRI, is a full-time faculty member of the Cardiology department at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She is director of MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute's Cardio-Oncology Program and medical director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.
Dr. Barac is on the editorial boards of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research. She is a reviewer for a number of prestigious medical journals, and consistently publishes articles in numerous peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Barac frequently presents her work at national and international conferences, including the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. She is fluent in English, Italian, Spanish and Croatian.
Dr. Barac has a background in molecular signaling. She was a research fellow in the Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch, National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, from 2000 to 2003. Prior to that, she was a visiting fellow in Ludwig Institute for Cancer research in Uppsala, Sweden. As a member of the American Society of Echocardiography, Dr. Barac is part of the writing group for the society's Guidelines for Echocardiographic Evaluation and Treatment of Patients During and After Cancer Therapy.
Dr. Barac serves on the American College of Cardiology's Early Career Professionals Council as well as on the Women in Cardiology Council.
With improving cancer survival rates, increasing focus is being placed on protecting the cardio-vascular system from the negative impact that some cancer treatments can have on heart health.Read more...
At MedStar Health, a number of women with an aggressive form of breast cancer are participating in a clinical trial that aims to make treatment effective while minimizing damage to their hearts. Within this clinical trial, women with HER2 Positive breast cancer and mild heart dysfunction have access to a potentially life-saving treatment years before it is approved for wider use. This research is just a part of a larger MedStar initiative to provide the most effective treatment for cancer patients, while preserving heart function.
Research Study in Focus: Giving more women access to a life-saving breast cancer treatment
Women with an aggressive form of breast cancer, called HER2 positive, have shown significantly improved survival rates when treated with targeted designer anti-bodies that interfere with the cancer’s growth and spread.Read more...
Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which attempts to eradicate the cancer with a set of treatments, this approach involves life-long therapy, which has prompted concern about possible long-term damage to the cardio-vascular system. As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has restricted use of this therapy to women who do not have a heart problem called reduced left ventricular ejection fraction, or LVEF, in which the heart chamber called the left ventricle is not able to pump a normal amount of blood.But researchers at MedStar Health―cardiologist Ana Barac, MD, and oncologist Sandra Swain, MD, believed that with appropriate safeguards, this life-saving anti-body therapy could be made available to women with a mild case of LVEF. They launched SAFEHeart, a pilot study designed to test their theory, in hopes of eventually getting FDA approval for wider use, and MedStar patients with HER2 positive breast cancer and mild LVEF were given the opportunity to access the therapy.