Black History Month: Local cardiologist paving path for others

CHARLOTTE — February isn’t just Black History Month. It’s also American Heart Month.

Channel 9′s Damany Lewis spoke to Dr. Sandy Charles, who is the first black woman cardiologist at Novant Health Heart and Vascular Institute at Presbyterian Hospital. She hopes top inspire others with her position.

“I feel like I am living the dream and it’s a blessing,” Dr. Charles said.

Dr. Charles is currently the medical director of the women’s heart and vascular center. She has worked as a cardiologist for the last nine years.

Dr. Charles has been blazing a path for heart health since her career began, but says it takes a village to achieve a large task.

“It’s hard to achieve any large task on your own it takes a village it takes a community,” Charles said.

Her family, immigrants from Hatti, instilled in her at an early age the importance of an education. It was her mother who provided the spark for her to enter into the medical field.

“As a young child i saw my mother who was going through nursing school and who graduated from nursing school at 3 years old and I would see her come home with her stethescope,” Charles said. “And her white uniform and the one thing she always told me is you are so smart and you can do anything that you want to do.”

Charles’ grandmother inspired her to become a cardiologist after she went through numerous cardiovascular issues from diabetes to high blood pressure.

“She went from being a vibrant young grandmother, independent to suffering stroke after stroke after stroke that stole her ability to walk and talk,” Charles said. “She ended up dying younger than what she should have died and watching that experience made me realize that I really wanted to be that type of doctor that I wish my grandmother had.”

According to a study done in 2020 by the American Heart Association, more than 60% of black men and 57% of black women were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. And the number of black cardiologists is a fraction of that number, which is sitting at 3% to 4%.

Charles said she consider herself a pioneer and hopes to help others looking to go down a similar path.

“I also feel the strong need to pass the baton forward,” she said. “And to really serve as a mentor for young individuals seeking a career in medicine.”

(WATCH BELOW: Local, Black-owned catering company built by family of entrepreneurs)

Damany Lewis

Damany Lewis, wsoctv.com

Damany Lewis is an anchor and reporter for Channel 9.