What is it about?

German-born Karen Sliwa-Hähnle is Director of the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is world-renown for her work in heart failure and CVD in pregnancy, as well as the Heart of Soweto studies she initiated. She talks about her research among some of the poorest and most deprived communities on earth.

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Why is it important?

Women in South Africa are among one of the most disadvantaged groups in the world. Karen Sliwa's work and findings cover areas rarely investigated by scientists. Her work on CVD in pregnancy led to changes in recommendations for recording maternal death and she later broadened out her research into exploring heart failure in South Africa. She is an accomplished researcher but remains a passionate hands-on doctor. For the last 20 years she has been committed to working among the people of South Africa and has spent much of the last two decades working at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, a 3000 bed hospital in Soweto, establishing the Soweto Cardiovascular Research Unit.


Karen Sliwa offers a unique perspective from a society where health inequality continues to dominate people's life long after the apartheid system was dismantled. Her belief in using research to improve outcomes for people in disadvantaged circumstances is as impressive as her belief in the abilities of African physicians and researchers.

Judith Ozkan

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Karen Sliwa-Hähnle in Cape Town, European Heart Journal, April 2017, Oxford University Press (OUP),
DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehx090.
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