Kusum Lata, MD
Kusum Lata, MD, is currently an interventional cardiology fellow at Detroit Medical Center (Detroit, MI). A graduate of Stanley Medical College & Hospital (Chennai, India), where she received a full scholarship, Lata completed her medical and cardiology training at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center/Stanford University (California) and the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), respectively. She also completed a clinical heart failure fellowship at University of California, San Francisco. She has published 17 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has served as a subinvestigator on two NIH-funded trials. After training, Lata will be working as a staff interventionalist at Sutter Health (Stockton, CA), focusing on high-risk coronary and peripheral interventions.
Why did you decide to pursue interventional cardiology?
This is one of the most challenging, diverse, and active fields of medicine. I get extreme satisfaction get when my work makes my patient clinically better in the blink of an eye. For me, this is the most rewarding of the cardiology subspecialties. The positive clinical impacts of our procedures are huge, especially when we treat acutely ill patients with several comorbidities without alternative treatment options. Interventional cardiology also fulfills my inherent curiosity as the cutting-edge research I participate in is intellectually stimulating.
What has been your most meaningful clinical experience?
A few months ago, I treated a 40-year-old female who had been admitted to a community hospital with NSTEMI and found to have severe 3-vessel coronary disease. She underwent LAD intervention on Impella (Abiomed) support, but when the Impella was removed the next day, she immediately went into pulmonary edema and was transferred to our hospital for a higher level of care. We revascularized her completely on hemodynamic support Impella CP. She was very skinny—barely 90 pounds—and had compromised flow around Impella sheath, so we did external fem-fem bypass and continued hemodynamic support for myocardial recovery. After few days in the coronary care unit, she was weaned off Impella and successfully discharged home. The gratification of bringing life to someone that close to death is incomparable and cannot be explained in words.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing interventional cardiology fellows today?
Definitely career selection. In the current era of coronary, peripheral, and structural, and complex and high-risk interventional fellowships, it’s hard to decide what you want to do. Coronary interventions are a basic foundation that everyone has to know. Beyond that, one additional skill set in peripheral, structural or advanced coronaries like CTO’s interventions is also required. If you don’t update yourself on the advanced technology, you will be phased out. Additionally, fellows need to have familiarity with the portable hemodynamic devices, either to treat patients or bridge them to referral centers.
One of your passions is supporting women in cardiology. Can you explain why this is such an important issue for you?
When I was applying for interventional fellowship, I felt that female and male applicants were treated differently. Many people questioned why I wanted to go into interventional cardiology, alluding to the time commitment, radiation exposure, and the excessive stress. I don’t dismiss these factors, as they are concerning, but good mentors should recognize your willingness to overcome them regardless of gender. Also, I was really surprised by the huge gender gap in interventional cardiology (only 4% of interventionists are female), and how it has remained stable for a decade. So I decided to do something about this intricate issue.
I met Cindy Grines, MD (Detroit Medical Center) at a Women in Innovation (WIN-SCAI) meeting. She is very selfless and provided me immense me support as to how I could excel, what to do, and where to go. I had never experienced mentorship like that before. Through WIN, I have met many upcoming female cardiology fellows who want to pursue careers in this field but who have been unable to find qualified and encouraging mentors. I try to provide them with easy and effective mentorship and shape their careers in the same way Dr. Grines helped me. I plan to continue this work after I finish fellowship.
What is something that people might not know about you?
In my personal life, I’m very easygoing and fun loving. At a given time, I am either Interventionist or mom, and I never try to play these two most important roles simultaneously. I have a very supportive family and trustworthy spouse I can rely when I am away from my kids. I like to cook, explore new places, and spend time with my family. I have two daughters—7 and 4 years old—and I’m trying to inspire the oldest one to be a physician because I know that every bit of hard work is worth in this field. Right now, she wants to be a pediatrician.
What her nominator, Cindy Grines, MD, says:
Dr. Lata is highly motivated, is a self-starter, and has an incredible work ethic and impeccable cath lab skills. She has presented at various national conferences such as ACC, AHA, SCAI, and TCT. She is also actively involved in fellow-in-training groups at ACC and SCAI, and served on the Volcano Advisory Board. She also single-handedly organized the fellows subsection of the Women in Innovation meeting for SCAI. Therefore, based on strong clinical as well as academic skills, I strongly recommend Dr. Lata as a TCTMD stellar fellow.
* To nominate a stellar cardiology fellow for the Featured Fellow section of TCTMD’s Fellows Forum, click here.