Equity in Heart Healthcare: a Conversation with Dr. Breathett

Dr. Breathett is a Tucson-based doctor, heart failure/ transplant cardiologist, and Assistant Professor of Medicine, who specializes in racial/ethnic and gender disparities in advanced heart failure and preventing those populations from developing advanced heart failure. We were able to speak with her about her work, the impact of COVID-19, and how to partner with healthcare professionals to provide quality and equitable care. 


Dr. Breathett’s research has found significant disparities in heart failure treatment among women and racial and ethnic minorities. The failure of our systems to provide quality care to these populations costs time, money, and people’s lives. To address these failures Dr. Breathett says “we must start to address structural racism, and we need financial resources” that she says are only granted through extensive policy change. 


Healthcare inequities in regards to COVID-19 have been apparent, as COVID-19 cases, and especially severe cases, have been significantly higher among people with a lower socioeconomic status, and among racial and ethnic minorities. These disparities highlight the systemic racism, and classism, that exist within public health and healthcare. Dr. Breathett says COVID-19 “has illuminated a lot of existing disparities to people that may have not previously known.” She is “inspired by our current generations, and especially the younger generations,” response to these inequalities, saying that she is “hopeful that change is coming, but it’s going to require that a number of different stakeholders decide that this is not acceptable.”


One way Dr. Breathett thinks this change is possible is through increasing awareness of available resources, such as the services Harboring Hearts provides, through increased partnerships with social workers and hospitals. However, she recognizes that access to care needs to go beyond this and become “embedded within the structure” of healthcare. Systemic change of this nature requires us to support and uplift the voices of patients and their families when addressing policymakers, allowing their lived experiences to guide our healthcare reform by, as Dr. Breathett says, “creating avenues for multiple patients to share that information so that policy can change.” 

For more information on Dr. Breathett’s work, please visit:

Association of Gender and Race With Allocation of Advanced Heart Failure Therapies

Imbalance in Heart Transplant to Heart Failure Mortality Ratio Among African American, Hispanic, and White Patients