THE FIRST AND OLDEST CARDIOLOGIST OF INDIA, Dr. S.I. Padmawati [103 years], passed away today due to COVID-19

Widely regarded as the Doyenne of cardiology in India, Dr Sivaramakrishna Iyer Padmavati, India’s first woman cardiologist is a woman of many firsts!

Dr Padmavati established
●the first cardiology clinic and catheter lab,
●the first Indian medical school-based cardiology department, and
●India’s first heart foundation.

She turned 103 in June this year.

Born in 1917 in Burma (now Myanmar), Padmavati excelled in school and earned the first medical degree at Rangoon Medical College awarded to a female student.

Soon after she completed her studies, Japan invaded Burma in 1942.

Padmavati with her mother and four sisters fled the country, taking the last flight to India. She was eventually reunited with her father and brothers when World War II ended.

●In 1949, Dr Padmavati moved to London as a fellow with the Royal College of Physicians in London and the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh
●She studied in Sweden before receiving a 1949 fellowship with the Johns Hopkins University Department of Pediatrics
●In Baltimore, Dr Padmavati trained under Dr Helen Taussig, who pioneered the first surgeries on ‘blue babies,’ or babies born with congenital heart defects
●In 1952, she joined Harvard Medical School under Dr Paul Dudley White, a pioneer of modern cardiology
●In 1953, Dr Padmavati returned to India, paving the path of cardiovascular medicine for generations

After returning to India:-

  1. Dr Padmavati began as a lecturer at Delhi’s all women’s Lady Hardinge Medical College and was promoted to Professor of Medicine within a year.

  2. She set up north India’s first cardiac catheterization lab, with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

  3. The department became so popular that even men with cardiac problems started coming to the hospital, which treated women only.

  4. For decades Dr Padmavati conducted clinical investigations and published over 300 research articles on preventive cardiovascular medicine.

  5. In 1967, the Government of India asked her to take over as Director-Principal of Maulana Azad Medidcal College (MAMC) where she also set up a Cardiology Department.

  6. MAMC had 26 departments and it was Dr Padmavati who introduced the DM course in Cardiology, which admits postgraduates

●Dr Padmavati was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1967 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1992, the highest civilian honors granted by the Indian government.
●She is also a recipient of Harvard Medical International award, BC Roy award, and Kamla Menon Research award

After retiring from government services in 1981, she served as the founding director of the National Heart Institute, Delhi.
Even at the age of 103, she used to see patients.

Dr Padmavati stands as a great inspiration not only for the millions of aspiring female doctors but also for those who consider age as a constraint. She never gave up, especially during a period of time when medicine was not seen as a suitable profession for women.