Breakthroughs, Risks and Warning Signs: An Insider's Tips for a Healthy Heart

Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine

Did you know that bad breath and gut issues can be related to heart disease? February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness and discuss heart disease prevention. In Newsweek's 2021 rankings, Hadassah Hospital is recognized as one of the top cardiology hospitals. In this episode, hear from one of the premier heart specialists at Hadassah, Dr. Offer Amir, Director of the Irma and Paul Milstein Heart Center. Listen as he informs how Hadassah is saving lives faster, COVID and much more.

About this episode

Professor Offer Amir is the director of the Irma and Paul Milstein Heart Center at the Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. He is the former director of the Cardio-Vascular Department at the Poriya Medical Center in Israel. A graduate of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Dr. Amir completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Texas, Texas Medical Center after his Israel Defense Forces army service, serving as a chief medical resident. His cardiology fellowship was at the Lady Davis Carmel Medical Center in Haifa. After his cardiology rotation, he held a fellowship in heart failure/heart transplant and cardiac mechanical support. Dr. Amir's professional interest is advanced heart failure. He enjoys advancing medical residents and fellows and also currently serves as an associate dean at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

About the Episode

The moments when someone is suffering from a heart attack are crucial. Any delay in getting that person the much-needed medical attention can have catastrophic consequences. That’s why the doctors at the Irma and Paul Milstein Heart Center at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem have come up with a way to shave nearly half an hour from those tense times.

At most hospitals, people who are experiencing cardiac events are usually taken to the ER where they are triaged and examined as the clock ticks away and heart muscle failure continues. At Hadassah, there’s a different approach. Ambulances call ahead, and alert Hadassah’s state-of-the-art Cath Lab that they’re bringing a patient in. Skipping the ER and going straight to the Cath Lab can often mean the difference between life and death.

“We keep telling ourselves and the patient that time is muscle,” explained Dr. Offer Amir, a cardiologist and the director of the Irma and Paul Milstein Heart Center at Hadassah. “Half an hour is a time that cells without blood supplies start to die. So you can imagine what importance it has and what significance it has to the patient's quality of life, and life itself later on.”

In honor of American Heart Month in February, we sat down with Dr. Amir to unpack the latest developments related to heart disease and how the Milstein Heart Center is helping with research and cutting-edge treatments of its patients. It's ranked by Newsweek and is considered one of the most advanced medical centers in the world. “This is a huge achievement,” Dr. Amir noted.

One particular area of research for Dr. Amir and his colleagues is how our own gut bacteria can impact our heart health. “The Greeks used to say that the gut is a port of entry to the body,” he said. “And in so many ways they were right, because this microbiome, these millions of bacteria that we start to have just after we are born have a significant impact on inflammation, on thrombosis, on a lot of issues.”

In addition to the gut, there are many underlying causes to heart disease – genetics, sleep issues, lack of exercise. But the coronavirus has exacerbated yet another: stress. The global pandemic has caused unimaginable stress on people’s lives – from deaths in the family to high unemployment and coping with life under quarantine. Those stress spikes can have lasting impacts on our heart. “We know that you can deteriorate your heart function almost in a matter of days due to a very high level of stress,” Dr. Amir said.

As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, Dr. Amir felt it was his calling to serve as a medical professional in Israel. And at the conclusion of this episode, he reveals something else: His son is continuing in the family business and is studying to be a doctor in the Holy Land.

Other stories you’ll hear in this episode:

  • How the Irma and Paul Milstein Heart Center is doing outreach to Jerusalem’s diverse population, especially in low-income neighborhoods.
  • Why women don’t get treated as quickly as men when they are suffering a heart attack.
  • he amazing journey of Dr. Amir’s most memorable patient.

Further learning

Read a transcript of this episode.

"Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine" is a production of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Hadassah enhances the health of people around the world through medical education, care and research innovations at the Hadassah Medical Organization. For more information on the latest advances in medicine please head over to

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The show is hosted by Benyamin Cohen and edited by Skyler Inman and the team at the Hadassah offices in both New York and Israel.

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